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Title: Economic Sophisms
Author: Bastiat, Frédéric, 1801-1850
Language: English
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By Frédéric Bastiat

Translated From the Fifth Edition of the French, by Patrick James
Stirling, LLD., F.R.S.E.

Author Of "The Philosophy Of Trade," Etc.

Edinburgh: Oliver And Boyd, Tweeddale Court.



Bastiat's two great works on Political Economy--the Sophismes
Économiques, and the Harmonies Économiques--may be regarded as
counterparts of each other. He himself so regarded them: "the one," he
says, "pulls down, the other builds up." His object in the Sophismes was
to refute the fallacies of the Protectionist school, then predominant
in France, and so to clear the way for the establishment of what he
maintained to be the true system of economic science, which he desired
to found on a new and peculiar theory of value, afterwards fully
developed by him in the _Harmonies_. Whatever difference of opinion
may exist among economists as to the soundness of this theory, all must
admire the irresistible logic of the _Sophismes_, and "the sallies
of wit and humour," which, as Mr Cobden has said, make that work as
"amusing as a novel."

The system of Bastiat having thus a _destructive_ as well as a
_constructive_ object, a _negative_ as well as a _positive_ design, it
is perhaps only doing justice to his great reputation as an economist to
put the English reader in a position to judge of that system as a
whole. Hence the present translation of the _Sophismes_ is intended as a
companion volume to the translation of the _Harmonies._

It is unnecessary for me to say more here by way of preface, the gifted
author having himself explained the design of the work in a short but
lucid introduction.




My design in this little volume is to refute some of the arguments which
are urged against the Freedom of Trade.

I do not propose to engage in a contest with the protectionists; but
rather to instil a principle into the minds of those who hesitate
because they sincerely doubt.

I am not one of those who say that Protection is founded on men's
interests. I am of opinion rather that it is founded on errors, or, if
you will, upon _incomplete truths_. Too many people fear liberty, to
permit us to conclude that their apprehensions are not sincerely felt.

It is perhaps aiming too high, but my wish is, I confess, that this
little work should become, as it were, the _Manual_ of those whose
business it is to pronounce between the two principles. Where men have
not been long accustomed and familiarized to the doctrine of liberty,
the sophisms of protection, in one shape or another, are constantly
coming back upon them. In order to disabuse them of such errors when
they recur, a long process of analysis becomes necessary; and every
one has not the time required for such a process--legislators less than
others. This is my reason for endeavouring to present the analysis and
its results cut and dry.

But it may be asked, Are the benefits of liberty so hidden as to be
discovered only by Economists by profession?

     * The first series of the Sophismes Économiques appeared in
     the end of 1845; the second series in 1848.--Editor.

We must confess that our adversaries have a marked advantage over us in
the discussion. In very few words they can announce a half-truth; and
in order to demonstrate that it is _incomplete_, we are obliged to have
recourse to long and dry dissertations.

This arises from the nature of things. Protection concentrates on one
point the good which it produces, while the evils which it inflicts are
spread over the masses. The one is visible to the naked eye; the other
only to the eye of the mind. In the case of liberty, it is just the

In the treatment of almost all economic questions, we find it to be so.

You say, Here is a machine which has turned thirty workmen into the

Or, Here is a spendthrift who encourages every branch of industry.

Or, The conquest of Algeria has doubled the trade of Marseilles.

Or, The budget secures subsistence for a hundred thousand families.

You are understood at once and by all. Your propositions are in
themselves clear, simple, and true. What are your deductions from them?

Machinery is an evil.

Luxury, conquests, and heavy taxation, are productive of good.

And your theory has all the more success that you are in a situation to
support it by a reference to undoubted facts.

On our side, we must decline to confine our attention to the cause, and
its direct and immediate effect. We know that this very effect in its
turn becomes a cause. To judge correctly of a measure, then, we must
trace it through the whole chain of results to its definitive effect. In
other words, we are forced to _reason_ upon it.

But then clamour gets up: You are theorists, metaphysicians, idealists,
utopian dreamers, _doctrinaires_; and all the prejudices of the popular
mind are roused against us.

What, under such circumstances, are we to do? We can only invoke the
patience and good sense of the reader, and set our deductions, if we
can, in a light so clear, that truth and error must show themselves
plainly, openly, and without disguise,--and that the victory, once
gained, may remain on the side of restriction, or on that of freedom.

And here I must set down an essential observation.

Some extracts from this little volume have already appeared in the
_Journal des Economistes_.

In a critique, in other respects very favourable, from the pen of M.
le Vicomte de Romanet, he supposes that I demand the suppression of
customs. He is mistaken. I demand the suppression of the protectionist
_régime_. We don't refuse taxes to the Government, but we desire, if
possible, to dissuade the governed from taxing one another. Napoleon
said that "the customhouse should not be made an instrument of revenue,
but a means of protecting industry." We maintain the contrary, and we
contend that the customhouse ought not to become in the hands of the
working classes an instrument of reciprocal rapine, but that it may be
used as an instrument of revenue as legitimately as any other. So far
are we--or, to speak only for myself, so far am I--from demanding the
suppression of customs, that I see in that branch of revenue our future
anchor of safety. I believe our resources are capable of yielding to the
Treasury immense returns; and to speak plainly, I must add, that, seeing
how slow is the spread of sound economic doctrines, and so rapid
the increase of our budgets, I am disposed to count more upon the
necessities of the Treasury than on the force of enlightened opinion for
furthering the cause of commercial reform.

You ask me, then, What is your conclusion? and I reply, that here there
is no need to arrive at a conclusion. I combat sophisms; that is all.

But you rejoin, that it is not enough to pull down--it is also necessary
to build up. True; but to destroy an error, is to build up the truth
which stands opposed to it.

After all, I have no repugnance to declare what my wishes are. I desire
to see public opinion led to sanction a law of customs conceived nearly
in these terms:--

Articles of primary necessity to pay a duty, ad valorem, of 5 per cent.

Articles of convenience, 10 per cent.

Articles of luxury, 15 to 20 per cent.

These distinctions, I am aware, belong to an order of ideas which are
quite foreign to Political Economy strictly so called, and I am far from
thinking them as just and useful as they are commonly supposed to be.
But this subject does not fall within the compass of my present design.


Which is best for man, and for society, abundance or scarcity?

What! you exclaim, can that be a question? Has any one ever asserted, or
is it possible to maintain, that scarcity is at the foundation of human

Yes, this has been asserted, and is maintained every day; and I hesitate
not to affirm that the _theory of scarcity_ is much the most popular.
It is the life of conversation, of the journals, of books, and of
the tribune; and strange as it may seem, it is certain that Political
Economy will have fulfilled its practical mission when it has
established beyond question, and widely disseminated, this very
simple proposition: "The wealth of men consists in the abundance of

Do we not hear it said every day, "The foreigner is about to inundate us
with his products?" Then we fear abundance.

Did not M. Saint Cricq exclaim, "Production is excessive?" Then he feared

Do workmen break machines? Then they fear excess of production, or

Has not M. Bugeaud pronounced these words, "Let bread be dear, and
agriculturists will get rich?" Now, bread cannot be dear but because it
is scarce. Therefore M. Bugeaud extols scarcity.

Does not M. d'Argout urge as an argument against sugar-growing the
very productiveness of that industry? Does he not say, "Beetroot has no
future, and its culture cannot be extended, because a few acres devoted
to its culture in each department would supply the whole consumption of
France?" Then, in his eyes, good lies in sterility, in dearth, and evil
in fertility and abundance.

The _Presse_, the _Commerce_, and the greater part of the daily papers,
have one or more articles every morning to demonstrate to the Chambers
and the Government, that it is sound policy to raise legislatively the
price of all things by means of tariffs. And do the Chambers and the
Government not obey the injunction? Now tariffs can raise prices only
by diminishing the _supply_ of commodities in the market! Then the
journals, the Chambers, and the Minister, put in practice the theory of
scarcity, and I am justified in saying that this theory is by far the
most popular.

How does it happen that in the eyes of workmen, of publicists, and
statesmen, abundance should appear a thing to be dreaded, and scarcity
advantageous? I propose to trace this illusion to its source.

We remark that a man grows richer in proportion to the return yielded by
his exertions, that is to say, in proportion as he sells his commodity
at a _higher price_. He sells at a higher price in proportion to the
rarity, to the scarcity, of the article he produces. We conclude from
this, that, as far as he is concerned at least, scarcity enriches him.
Applying successively the same reasoning to all other producers, we
construct the _theory of scarcity_. We next proceed to apply this
theory, and, in order to favour producers generally, we raise prices
artificially, and cause a scarcity of all commodities, by prohibition,
by restriction, by the suppression of machinery, and other analogous

The same thing holds of abundance. We observe that when a product is
plentiful, it sells at a lower price, and the producer gains less. If
all producers are in the same situation, they are all poor. Therefore
it is abundance that ruins society And as theories are soon reduced
to practice, we see the law struggling against the abundance of

This sophism in its more general form may make little impression, but
applied to a particular order of facts, to a certain branch of industry,
to a given class, of producers, it is extremely specious; and this
is easily explained. It forms a syllogism which is not _false_,
but _incomplete_. Now, what is _true_ in a syllogism is always and
necessarily present to the mind. But _incompleteness_ is a negative
quality, an absent _datum_, which it is very possible, and indeed very
easy, to leave out of account.

Man produces in order to consume. He is at once producer and consumer.
The reasoning which I have just explained considers him only in the
first of these points of view. Had the second been taken into account,
it would have led to an opposite conclusion. In effect, may it not be

The consumer is richer in proportion as he _purchases_ all things
cheaper; and he purchases things cheaper in proportion to their
abundance; therefore it is abundance which enriches him. This reasoning,
extended to all consumers, leads to the _theory of plenty_.

It is the notion of _exchange_ imperfectly understood which leads to
these illusions. If we consider our personal interest, we recognise
distinctly that it is double. As _sellers_ we have an interest in
dearness, and consequently in scarcity; as _buyers_, in cheapness, or
what amounts to the same thing, in the abundance of commodities. We
cannot, then, found our reasoning on one or other of these interests
before inquiring which of the two coincides and is identified with the
general and permanent interest of mankind at large.

If man were a solitary animal, if he laboured exclusively for himself,
if he consumed directly the fruit of his labour--in a word, _if he did
not exchange_--the theory of scarcity would never have appeared in
the world. It is too evident that, in that case, abundance would be
advantageous, from whatever quarter it came, whether from the result
of his industry, from ingenious tools, from powerful machinery of his
invention, or whether due to the fertility of the soil, the liberality
of nature, or even to a mysterious _invasion_ of products brought by the
waves and left by them upon the shore. No solitary man would ever
have thought that in order to encourage his labour and render it more
productive, it was necessary to break in pieces the instruments which
saved it, to neutralize the fertility of the soil, or give back to the
sea the good things it had brought to his door. He would perceive at
once that labour is not an end, but a means; and that it would be absurd
to reject the result for fear of doing injury to the means by which that
result was accomplished. He would perceive that if he devotes two
hours a day to providing for his wants, any circumstance (machinery,
fertility, gratuitous gift, no matter what) which saves him an hour
of that labour, the result remaining the same, puts that hour at his
disposal, and that he can devote it to increasing his enjoyments;
in short, he would see that _to save labour_ is nothing else than

But _exchange_ disturbs our view of a truth so simple. In the social
state, and with the separation of employments to which it leads,
the production and consumption of a commodity are not mixed up and
confounded in the same individual. Each man comes to see in his labour
no longer a means but an end. In relation to each commodity, exchange
creates two interests, that of the producer and that of the consumer;
and these two interests are always directly opposed to each other.

It is essential to analyze them, and examine their nature.

Take the case of any producer whatever, what is his immediate interest?
It consists of two things: 1st, that the fewest possible number of
persons should devote themselves to his branch of industry; 2dly, that
the greatest possible number of' persons should be in quest of the
article he produces. Political economy explains it more succinctly in
these terms, Supply very limited, demand very extended; or in other
words still, Competition limited, demand unlimited.

What is the immediate interest of the consumer? That the supply of the
product in question should be extended, and the demand restrained.

Seeing, then, that these two interests are in opposition to each other,
one of them must necessarily coincide with social interests in general,
and the other be antagonistic to them.

But which of them should legislation favour, as identical with the
public good--if, indeed, it should favour either?

To discover this, we must inquire what would happen if the secret wishes
of men were granted.

In as far as we are producers, it must be allowed that the desire of
every one of us is anti-social. Are we vine-dressers? It would give us
no great regret if hail should shower down on all the vines in the world
except our own: _this is the theory of scarcity_. Are we iron-masters?
Our wish is, that there should be no other iron in the market but our
own, however much the public may be in want of it; and for no other
reason than that this want, keenly felt and imperfectly satisfied, shall
ensure us a higher price: this _is still the theory of scarcity_. Are
we farmers? We say with M. Bugeaud, Let bread be dear, that is to say,
scarce, and agriculturists will thrive: always the same theory, _the
theory of scarcity_.

Are we physicians? We cannot avoid seeing that certain physical
ameliorations, improving the sanitary state of the country, the
development of certain moral virtues, such as moderation and temperance,
the progress of knowledge tending to enable each man to take better
care of his own health, the discovery of certain simple remedies of easy
application, would be so many blows to our professional success. In as
far as we are physicians, then, our secret wishes would be anti-social.
I do not say that physicians form these secret wishes. On the contrary,
I believe they would hail with joy the discovery of a universal panacea;
but they would not do this as physicians, but as men, and as Christians.
By a noble abnegation of self', the physician places himself in the
consumer's point of view. But as exercising a profession, from which he
derives his own and his family's subsistence, his desires, or, if you
will, his interests, are anti-social.

Are we manufacturers of cotton stuffs? We desire to sell them at the
price most profitable to ourselves. We should consent willingly to an
interdict being laid on all rival manufactures; and if we could venture
to give this wish public expression, or hope to realize it with some
chance of success, we should attain our end, to some extent, by indirect
means; for example, by excluding foreign fabrics, in order to diminish
the _supply_, and thus produce, forcibly and to our profit, a _scarcity_
of clothing.

In the same way, we might pass in review all other branches of industry,
and we should always find that the producers, as such, have anti-social
views. "The shopkeeper," says Montaigne, "thrives only by the
irregularities of youth; the farmer by the high price of corn, the
architect by the destruction of houses, the officers of justice by
lawsuits and quarrels. Ministers of religion derive their distinction
and employment from our vices and our death. No physician rejoices in
the health of his friends, nor soldiers in the peace of their country;
and so of the rest."

Hence it follows that if the secret wishes of each producer were
realized, the world would retrograde rapidly towards barbarism. The sail
would supersede steam, the oar would supersede the sail, and general
traffic would be carried on by the carrier's waggon; the latter would be
superseded by the mule, and the mule by the pedlar. Wool would exclude
cotton, cotton in its turn would exclude wool, and so on until the
dearth of all things had caused man himself to disappear from the face
of the earth.

Suppose for a moment that the legislative power and the public force
were placed at the disposal of Mimeral's committee, and that each member
of that association had the privilege of bringing in and sanctioning a
favourite law, is it difficult to divine to what sort of industrial code
the public would be subjected?

If we now proceed to consider the immediate interest of the consumer, we
shall find that it is in perfect harmony with the general interest, with
all that the welfare of society calls for. When the purchaser goes
to market, he desires to find it well stocked. Let the seasons be
propitious for all harvests; let inventions more and more marvellous
bring within reach a greater and greater number of products and
enjoyments; let time and labour be saved; let distances be effaced by
the perfection and rapidity of transit; let the spirit of justice and
of peace allow of a diminished weight of taxation; let barriers of every
kind be removed;--in all this the interest of the consumer runs parallel
with the public interest. The consumer may push his secret wishes to a
chimerical and absurd length, without these wishes becoming antagonistic
to the public welfare. He may desire that food and shelter, the hearth
and the roof, instruction and morality, security and peace, power and
health, should be obtained without exertion, and without measure, like
the dust of the highways, the water of the brook, the air which we
breathe; and yet the realization of his desires would not be at variance
with the good of society.

It may be said that if these wishes were granted, the work of the
producer would become more and more limited, and would end with
being stopped for want of aliment. But why? Because, on this extreme
supposition, all imaginable wants and desires would be fully satisfied.
Man, like Omnipotence, would create all things by a simple act of
volition. Well, on this hypotheses, what reason should we have to regret
the stoppage of industrial production?

I made the supposition, not long ago, of the existence of an assembly
composed of workmen, each member of which, in his capacity of producer,
should have the power of passing a law embodying his _secret wish_, and
I said that the code which would emanate from that assembly would be
monopoly systematized, the theory of scarcity reduced to practice.

In the same way, a chamber in which each should consult exclusively his
own immediate interest as a consumer, would tend to systematize liberty,
to suppress all restrictive measures, to overthrow all artificial
barriers--in a word, to realize the _theory of plenty_.

Hence it follows:

That to consult exclusively the immediate interest of the producer, is
to consult an interest which is anti-social.

That to take for basis exclusively the immediate interest of the
consumer, would be to take for basis the general interest.

Let me enlarge on this view of the subject a little, at the risk of
being prolix.

A radical antagonism exists between seller and buyer.*

The former desires that the subject of the bargain should be scarce, its
supply limited, and its price high.

The latter desires that it should be _abundant_, its supply large, and
its price low.

The laws, which should be at least neutral, take the part of the seller
against the buyer, of the producer against the consumer, of dearness
against cheapness,** of scarcity against abundance.

     * The author has modified somewhat the terms of this
     proposition in a posterior work.--See _Harmonies
     Économiques_, chapter xi.--Editor.

     ** We have not in French a substantive to express the idea
     opposed to that of dearness (cheapness). It is somewhat
     remarkable that the popular instinct expresses the idea by
     this periphrase, _marché avantageux, bon marche'_. The
     protectionists would do well to reform this locution, for it
     implies an economic system opposed to theirs.

They proceed, if not intentionally, at least logically, on this datum:
_a nation is rich when it is in want of everything_.

For they say, it is the producer that we must favour by securing him a
good market for his product. For this purpose it is necessary to raise
the price, and in order to raise the price we must restrict the supply;
and to restrict the supply is to create scarcity.

Just let us suppose that at the present moment, when all these laws
are in full force, we make a complete inventory, not in value, but in
weight, measure, volume, quantity, of all the commodities existing in
the country, which are fitted to satisfy the wants and tastes of its
inhabitants--corn, meat, cloth, fuel, colonial products, etc.

Suppose, again, that next day all the barriers which oppose the
introduction of foreign products are removed.

Lastly, suppose that in order to test the result of this reform, they
proceed three months afterwards to make a new inventory.

Is it not true that there will be found in France more corn, cattle,
cloth, linen, iron, coal, sugar, etc., at the date of the second, than
at the date of the first inventory?

So true is this, that our protective tariffs have no other purpose than
to hinder all these things from reaching us, to restrict the supply, and
prevent depreciation and abundance.

Now I would ask, Are the people who live under our laws better fed
because there is _less_ bread, meat, and sugar in the country? Are they
better clothed, because there is _less_ cloth and linen? Better warmed,
because there is _less_ coal? Better assisted in their labour, because
there are _fewer_ tools and _less_ iron, copper, and machinery?

But it may be said, If the foreigner _inundates_ us with his products,
he will carry away our money.

And what does it matter? Men are not fed on money. They do not clothe
themselves with gold, or warm themselves with silver. What matters it
whether there is more or less money in the country, if there is more
bread on our sideboards, more meat in our larders, more linen in our
wardrobes, more firewood in our cellars.

Restrictive laws always land us in this dilemma:--

Either you admit that they produce scarcity, or you do not. If you admit
it, you avow by the admission that you inflict on the people all the
injury in your power. If you do not admit it, you deny having restricted
the supply and raised prices, and consequently you deny having favoured
the producer.

What you do is either hurtful or profitless, injurious or ineffectual.
It never can be attended with any useful result.


The obstacle mistaken for the cause,--scarcity mistaken for
abundance,--this is the same sophism under another aspect; and it is
well to study it in all its phases.

Man is originally destitute of everything.

Between this destitution and the satisfaction of his wants, there exist
a multitude of _obstacles_ which labour enables us to surmount. It is
curious to inquire how and why these very obstacles to his material
prosperity have come to be mistaken for the cause of that prosperity.

I want to travel a hundred miles. But between the starting-point and
the place of my destination, mountains, rivers, marshes, impenetrable
forests, brigands--in a word, _obstacles_--interpose themselves; and to
overcome these obstacles, it is necessary for me to employ many efforts,
or, what comes to the same thing, that others should employ many efforts
for me, the price of which I must pay them. It is clear that I should
have been in a better situation if these obstacles had not existed.

On his long journey through life, from the cradle to the grave, man
has need to assimilate to himself a prodigious quantity of alimentary
substances, to protect himself against the inclemency of the weather,
to preserve himself from a number of ailments, or cure himself of them.
Hunger, thirst, disease, heat, cold, are so many obstacles strewn along
his path. In a state of isolation he must overcome them all, by hunting,
fishing, tillage, spinning, weaving, building; and it is clear that
it would be better for him that these obstacles were less numerous
and formidable, or, better still, that they did not exist at all. In
society, he does not combat these obstacles personally, but others do
it for him; and in return he employs himself in removing one of those
obstacles which are encountered by his fellow-men.

It is clear also, considering things in the gross, that it would be
better for men in the aggregate, or for society, that these obstacles
should be as few and feeble as possible.

But when we come to scrutinize the social phenomena in detail, and men's
sentiments as modified by the introduction of exchange, we soon perceive
how they have come to confound wants with wealth, the obstacle with the

The separation of employments, the division of labour, which results
from the faculty of exchanging, causes each man, instead of struggling
on his own account to overcome all the obstacles which surround him, to
combat only _one_ of them; he overcomes that one not for himself but for
his fellow-men, who in turn render him the same service.

The consequence is that this man, in combating this obstacle which it is
his special business to overcome for the sake of others, sees in it the
immediate source of his own wealth. The greater, the more formidable,
the more keenly felt this obstacle is, the greater will be the
remuneration which his fellow-men will be disposed to accord him; that
is to say, the more ready will they be to remove the obstacles which
stand in his way.

The physician, for example, does not bake his own bread, or manufacture
his own instruments, or weave or make his own coat. Others do these
things for him, and in return he treats the diseases with which his
patients are afflicted. The more numerous, severe, and frequent these
diseases are, the more others consent, and are obliged, to do for his
personal comfort. Regarding it from this point of view, disease,
that general obstacle to human happiness, becomes a cause of material
prosperity to the individual physician. The same argument applies to
all producers in their several departments. The shipowner derives his
profits from the obstacle called _distance_; the agriculturist from that
called _hunger_; the manufacturer of cloth from that called _cold_; the
schoolmaster lives upon _ignorance_; the lapidary upon _vanity_; the
attorney on _cupidity_; the notary upon possible _bad faith_,--just
as the physician lives upon the diseases of men. It is quite true,
therefore, that each profession has an immediate interest in the
continuation, nay in the extension, of the special obstacle which it is
its business to combat.

Observing this, theorists make their appearance, and, founding a system
on their individual sentiments, tell us: Want is wealth, labour is
wealth, obstacles to material prosperity are prosperity. To multiply
obstacles is to support industry.

Then statesmen intervene. They have the disposal of the public force;
and what more natural than to make it available for developing and
multiplying obstacles, since this is developing and multiplying wealth?
They say, for example: If we prevent the importation of iron from places
where it is abundant, we place an obstacle in the way of its being
procured. This obstacle, keenly felt at home, will induce men to pay in
order to be set free from it. A certain number of our fellow-citizens
will devote themselves to combating it, and this obstacle will make
their fortune. The greater the obstacle is--that is, the scarcer, the
more inaccessible, the more difficult to transport, the more distant
from the place where it is to be used, the mineral sought for
becomes--the more hands will be engaged in the various ramifications
of this branch of industry. Exclude, then, foreign iron, create an
obstacle, for you thereby create the labour which is to overcome it.

The same reasoning leads to the proscription of machinery.

Here, for instance, are men who are in want of casks for the storage of
their wine. This is an obstacle; and here are other men whose business
it is to remove that obstacle by making the casks that are wanted. It
is fortunate, then, that this obstacle should exist, since it gives
employment to a branch of national industry, and enriches a certain
number of our fellow-citizens. But then we have ingenious machinery
invented for felling the oak, cutting it up into staves, and forming
them into the wine-casks that are wanted. By this means the obstacle is
lessened, and so are the gains of the cooper. Let us maintain both at
their former elevation by a law, and put down the machinery.

To get at the root of this sophism, it is necessary only to reflect
that human labour is not the _end_, but the _means. It never remains
unemployed_. If one obstacle is removed, it does battle with another;
and society is freed from two obstacles by the same amount of labour
which was formerly, required for the removal of one. If the labour of
the cooper is rendered unnecessary in one department, it will soon take
another direction. But how and from what source will it be remunerated?
From the same source exactly from which it is remunerated at present;
for when a certain amount of labour becomes disposable by the removal of
an obstacle, a corresponding amount of remuneration becomes disposable
also. To maintain that human labour will ever come to want employment,
would be to maintain that the human race will cease to encounter
obstacles. In that case labour would not only be impossible; it would be
superfluous. We should no longer have anything to do, because we should
be omnipotent; and we should only have to pronounce our _fiat_ in order
to ensure the satisfaction of all our desires and the supply of all our

     * See post, ch. xiv. of second series of _Sophismes
     Economiques_, and ch. iii. and xi. of the _Harmonies


We have just seen that between our wants and the satisfaction of
these wants, obstacles are interposed. We succeed in overcoming these
obstacles, or in diminishing their force by the employment of our
faculties. We may say in a general way, that industry is an effort
followed by a result.

But what constitutes the measure of our prosperity, or of our wealth?
Is it the result of the effort? or is it the effort itself? A relation
always subsists between the effort employed and the result obtained.
Progress consists in the relative enhancement of the second or of the
first term of this relation.

Both theses have been maintained; and in political economy they have
divided the region of opinion and of thought.

According to the first system, wealth is the result of labour,
increasing as the relative _proportion of result to effort increases_.
Absolute perfection, of which God is the type, consists in the infinite
distance interposed between the two terms--in this sense, effort is
_nil_, result infinite.

The second system teaches that it is the effort itself which constitutes
the measure of wealth. To make progress is to increase the relative
proportion _which effort bears to result_. The ideal of this system may
be found in the sterile and eternal efforts of Sisyphus.*

The first system naturally welcomes everything which tends to diminish
_pains_ and augment _products_; powerful machinery which increases the
forces of man, exchange which allows him to derive greater advantage
from natural agents distributed in various proportions over the face
of the earth, intelligence which discovers, experience which proves,
competition which stimulates, etc.

Logically, the second invokes everything which has the effect of
increasing pains and diminishing products; privileges, monopolies,
restrictions, prohibitions, suppression of machinery, sterility, etc.

It is well to remark that the _universal practice_ of mankind always
points to the principle of the first system. We have never seen,
we shall never see, a man who labours in any department, be he
agriculturist, manufacturer, merchant, artificer, soldier, author, or
philosopher, who does not devote all the powers of his mind to work
better, to work with more rapidity, to work more economically--in a
word, to effect _more with less_.

The opposite doctrine is in favour only with theorists, deputies,
journalists, statesmen, ministers--men, in short, born to make
experiments on the social body.

     * For this reason, and for the sake of conciseness, the
     reader will pardon us for designating this system in the
     sequel by the name of _sisyphism_.

At the same time, we may observe, that in what concerns themselves
personally, they act as every one else does, on the principle of
obtaining from labour the greatest possible amount of useful results.

Perhaps I may be thought to exaggerate, and that there are no true

If it be argued that in practice they do not press their principle to
its most extreme consequences, I willingly grant it. This is always the
case when one sets out with a false principle. Such a principle soon
leads to results so absurd and so mischievous that we are obliged to
stop short. This is the reason why practical industry never admits
_sisyphism_; punishment would follow error too closely not to expose it.
But in matters of speculation, such as theorists and statesmen deal
in, one may pursue a false principle a long time before discovering
its falsity by the complicated consequences to which men were formerly
strangers; and when at last its falsity is found out, the authors take
refuge in the opposite principle, turn round, contradict themselves, and
seek their justification in a modern maxim of incomparable absurdity: in
political economy, there is no inflexible rule, no absolute principle.

Let us see, then, if these two opposite principles which I have just
described do not predominate by turns, the one in practical industry,
the other in industrial legislation.

I have already noticed the saying of M. Bugeaud (that "when bread is
dear, agriculturists become rich"); but in M. Bugeaud are embodied two
separate characters, the agriculturist and the legislator.

As an agriculturist, M. Bugeaud directs all his efforts to two ends,--to
save labour, and obtain cheap bread. When he prefers a good plough to a
bad one; when he improves his pastures; when, in order to pulverize the
soil, he substitutes as much as possible the action of the atmosphere
for that of the harrow and the hoe; when he calls to his aid all the
processes of which science and experiment have proved the efficacy,--he
has but one object in view, viz., to diminish _the proportion of effort
to result_. We have indeed no other test of the ability of a cultivator,
and the perfection of his processes, than to measure to what extent they
have lessened the one and added to the other. And as all the farmers
in the world act upon this principle, we may assert that the effort of
mankind at large is to obtain, for their own benefit undoubtedly, bread
and all other products cheaper, to lessen the labour needed to procure a
given quantity of what they want.

This incontestable tendency of mankind once established, should, it
would seem, reveal to the legislator the true principle, and point out
to him in what way he should aid industry (in as far as it falls within
his province to aid it); for it would be absurd to assert that human
laws should run counter to the laws of Providence.

And yet we have heard M. Bugeaud, as a deputy, exclaim: "I understand
nothing of this theory of cheapness; I should like better to see bread
dearer and labour more abundant." And following out this doctrine, the
deputy of the Dordogne votes legislative measures, the effect of
which is to hamper exchanges, for the very reason that they procure us
indirectly what direct production could not procure us but at greater

Now, it is very evident that M. Bugeaud's principle as a deputy is
directly opposed to the principle on which he acts as an agriculturist.
To act consistently, he should vote against all legislative restriction,
or else import into his farming operations the principle which he
proclaims from the tribune. We should then see him sow his corn in his
most sterile fields, for in this way he would succeed in _working much
to obtain little_. We should see him throwing aside the plough, since
hand-culture would satisfy his double wish for dearer bread and more
abundant labour.

Restriction has for its avowed object, and its acknowledged effect, to
increase labour.

It has also for its avowed object, and its acknowledged effect, to cause
dearness, which means simply scarcity of products; so that, carried out
to its extreme limits, it is pure _sisyphism_, such as we have defined
it,--_labour infinite, product nil_.

Baron Charles Dupin, the light of the peerage, it is said, on economic
science, accuses railways of _injuring navigation_; and it is certain
that it is of the nature of a more perfect, to restrict the use of a
less perfect means of conveyance. But railways cannot hurt navigation
except by attracting traffic; and they cannot attract traffic but by
conveying goods and passengers more cheaply; and they cannot convey
them more cheaply but by _diminishing the proportion which the effort
employed bears to the result obtained_, seeing that that is the very
thing which constitutes cheapness. When, then, Baron Dupin deplores this
diminution of the labour employed to effect a given result, it is the
doctrine of _sisyphism_ which he preaches. Logically, since he prefers
the ship to the rail, he should prefer the cart to the ship, the
pack-saddle to the cart, and the pannier to all other known means of
conveyance, for it is the latter which exacts the most labour with the
least result.

"Labour constitutes the wealth of a people," said M. de Saint-Cricq,
that Minister of Commerce who has imposed so many restrictions upon
trade. We must not suppose that this was an elliptical expression,
meaning, "The results of labour constitute the wealth of a people." No,
this economist distinctly intended to affirm that it is the _intensity_
of labour which is the measure of wealth, and the proof of it is, that
from consequence to consequence, from one restriction to another, he
induced France (and in this he thought he was doing her good) to expend
double the amount of labour, in order, for example, to provide herself
with an equal quantity of iron. In England, iron was then at eight
francs, while in France it cost sixteen francs. Taking a day's labour at
one franc, it is clear that France could, by means of exchange, procure
a quintal of iron by subtracting eight days' work from the aggregate
national labour. In consequence of the restrictive measures of M. de
Saint-Cricq, France was obliged to expend sixteen days' labour in order
to provide herself with a quintal of iron by direct production. Double
the labour for the same satisfaction, hence double the wealth. Then it
follows that wealth is not measured by the result, but by the intensity
of the labour. Is not this _sisyphism_ in all its purity?

And in order that there may be no mistake as to his meaning, the
Minister takes care afterwards to explain more fully his ideas; and as
he had just before called the intensity of labour _wealthy_ he goes on
to call the more abundant results of that labour, or the more abundant
supply of things proper to satisfy our wants, _poverty_. "Everywhere,"
he says, "machinery has taken the place of manual labour; everywhere
production superabounds; everywhere the equilibrium between the faculty
of producing, and the means of consuming, is destroyed." We see, then,
to what, in M. de Saint-Cricq's estimation, the critical situation
of the country was owing--it was to having produced too much, and her
labour being too intelligent, and too fruitful. We were too well
fed, too well clothed, too well provided with everything; a too rapid
production surpassed all our desires. It was necessary, then, to put a
stop to the evil, and for that purpose, to force us, by restrictions, to
labour more in order to produce less.

I have referred likewise to the opinions of another Minister of
Commerce, M. d'Argout. They deserve to be dwelt upon for an instant.
Desiring to strike a formidable blow at beet-root culture, he says,
"Undoubtedly, the cultivation of beet-root is useful, _but this utility
is limited_. The developments attributed to it are exaggerated. To be
convinced of this, it is sufficient to observe that this culture will be
necessarily confined within the limits of consumption. Double, triple,
if you will, the present consumption of France, _you will always find
that a very trifling portion of the soil will satisfy the requirements
of that consumption_." (This is surely rather a singular subject of
complaint!) "Do you desire proof of this? How many _hectares_ had we
under beet-root in 1828? 3130, which is equivalent to 1-10, 540th of
our arable land. At the present time, when indigenous sugar supplies
one-third of our consumption, how much land is devoted to that culture?
16,700 _hectares_, or 1-1978th of the arable land, or 45 _centiares_
in each commune. Suppose indigenous sugar already supplied our whole
consumption, we should have only 48,000 hectares under beet-root, or
1-689th of the arable land."*

There are two things to be remarked upon in this citation--the facts and
the doctrine. The facts tend to prove that little land, little capital,
and little labour are required to produce a large quantity of sugar, and
that each commune of France would be abundantly provided by devoting to
beet-root cultivation one hectare of its soil. The doctrine consists in
regarding this circumstance as adverse, and in seeing in the very power
and fertility of the new industry, _a limit to its utility_.

     * It is fair to M. d'Argout to say that he put this language
     in the mouth of the adversaries of beet-root culture. But he
     adopts it formally, and sanctions it besides, by the law
     which it was employed to justify.

I do not mean to constitute myself here the defender of beet-root
culture, or a judge of the strange facts advanced by M. d'Argout; * but
it is worth while to scrutinize the doctrine of a statesman, to whom
France for a long time entrusted the care of her agriculture and of her

I remarked in the outset that a variable relation exists between an
industrial effort and its result; that absolute imperfection consists
in an infinite effort without any result; absolute perfection in
an unlimited result without any effort; and perfectibility in the
progressive diminution of effort compared with the result.

But M. d'Argout tells us there is death where we think we perceive
life, and that the importance of any branch of industry is in direct
proportion to its powerlessness. What are we to expect, for instance,
from the cultivation of beet-root? Do you not see that 48,000 _hectares_
of land, with capital and manual labour in proportion, are sufficient
to supply all France with sugar? Then, this is a branch of industry of
limited utility; limited, of course, with reference to the amount
of labour which it demands, the only way in which, according to the
ex-Minister, any branch of industry can be useful. This utility would be
still more limited, if, owing to the fertility of the soil, and the
richness of the beet-root, we could reap from 24,000 hectares, what at
present we only obtain from 48,000. Oh! were only twenty times, a
hundred times, more land, capital, and labour necessary to _yield us the
same result_, so much the better. We might build some hopes on this new
branch of industry, and it would be worthy of state protection, for it
would offer a vast field to our national industry. But to produce much
with little! that is a bad example, and it is time for the law to

     * Supposing that 48,000 or 50,000 hectares were sufficient
     to supply the present consumption, it would require 150,000
     for triple that consumption, which M. d'Argout admits as
     possible. Moreover, if beet-root entered into a six years'
     rotation of crops, it would occupy successively 900,000
     hectares, or 1-38th of the arable land.

But what is true with regard to sugar, cannot be otherwise with regard
to bread. If, then, the _utility_ of any branch of industry is to be
estimated not by the amount of satisfactions it is fitted to procure us
with a determinate amount of labour, but, on the contrary, by the amount
of labour which it exacts in order to yield us a determinate amount of
satisfactions, what we ought evidently to desire is, that each acre of
land should yield less corn, and each grain of com less nourishment; in
other words, that our land should be comparatively barren; for then the
quantity of land, capital, and manual labour that would be required for
the maintenance of our population would be much more considerable;
we could then say that the demand for human labour would be in
direct proportion to this barrenness. The aspirations of MM. Bugeaud,
Saint-Cricq, Dupin, and d'Argout, would then be satisfied; bread would
be dear, labour abundant, and France rich--rich at least in the sense in
which these gentlemen understand the word.

What we should desire also is, that human intelligence should be
enfeebled or extinguished; for, as long as it survives, it will be
continually endeavouring to augment _the proportion which the end bears
to the means, and which the product bears to the labour_. It is in that
precisely that intelligence consists.

Thus, it appears that _sisyphism_ has been the doctrine of all the
men who have been intrusted with our industrial destinies. It would be
unfair to reproach them with it. This principle guides Ministers only
because it is predominant in the Chambers; and it predominates in the
Chambers only because it is sent there by the electoral body, and
the electoral body is imbued with it only because public opinion is
saturated with it.

I think it right to repeat here that I do not accuse men such as MM.
Bugeaud, Dupin, Saint-Cricq, and d'Argout of being absolutely and under
all circumstances _sisyphists_. They are certainly not so in their
private transactions; for in these they always desire to obtain _by
way of exchange_ what would cost them dearer to procure _by direct
production_; but I affirm they are _sisyphists_ when they hinder the
country from doing the same thing.*

     * See on the same subject, _Sophismes Économiques_, second
     series, ch. xvi., post, and _Harmonies Économiques_, ch. vi.


It has been said.....but in case I should be accused of putting sophisms
into the mouths of the protectionists, I shall allow one of their most
vigorous athletes to speak for them.

"It has been thought that protection in our case should simply represent
the difference which exists between the cost price of a commodity which
we produce and the cost price of the same commodity produced by our
neighbours.... A protective duty calculated on this basis would only
ensure free competition....; free competition exists only when there is
equality in the conditions and in the charges. In the case of a horse
race, we ascertain the weight which each horse has to carry, and
so equalize the conditions; without that there could be no fair
competition. In the case of trade, if one of the sellers can bring his
commodity to market at less cost, he ceases to be a competitor, and
becomes a monopolist.... Do away with this protection which represents
the difference of cost price, and the foreigner invades our markets and
acquires a monopoly."*

"Every one must wish, for his own sake, as well as for the sake of
others, that the production of the country should be protected against
foreign competition, _whenever the latter can furnish products at a
lower price._"**

     * M. le Vicomte de Romanet.

     ** Matthieu le Dombasle.

This argument recurs continually in works of the protectionist school.
I propose to examine it carefully, and I solicit earnestly the reader's
patience and attention. I shall consider, first of all, the inequalities
which are attributable to nature, and afterwards those which are
attributable to diversity of taxation.

In this, as in other cases, we shall find protectionist theorists
viewing their subject from the producer's stand-point, whilst we
advocate the cause of the unfortunate consumers, whose interests they
studiously keep out of sight. They institute a comparison between the
field of industry and the _turf_. But as regards the latter, the race is
at once the _means_ and the _end_. The public feels no interest in the
competition beyond the competition itself. When you start your horses,
your _end_, your object, is to find out which is the swiftest runner,
and I see your reason for equalizing the weights. But if your _end_,
your object, were to secure the arrival of some important and urgent
news at the winning-post, could you, without inconsistency, throw
obstacles in the way of any one who should offer you the best means of
expediting your message? This is what you do in commercial affairs.
You forget the end, the object sought to be attained, which is material
prosperity; you disregard it, you sacrifice it to a veritable _petitio
principii_; in plain language, you are begging the question.

But since we cannot bring our opponents to our point of view, let us
place ourselves in theirs, and examine the question in its relations
with production.

I shall endeavour to prove,

1st, That to level and equalize the conditions of labour, is to attack
exchange in its essence and principle.

2d, That it is not true that the labour of a country is neutralized by
the competition of more favoured countries.

3d, That if that were true, protective duties would not equalize the
conditions of production.

4th, That liberty, freedom of trade, levels these conditions as much as
they can be levelled.

5th, That the least favoured countries gain most by exchange.

I. To level and equalize the conditions of labour is not simply to cramp
exchanges in certain branches of trade, it is to attack exchange in its
principle, for its principle rests upon that very diversity, upon those
very inequalities of fertility, aptitude, climate, and temperature,
which you desire to efface. If Guienne sends wine to Brittany, and if
Brittany sends corn to Guienne, it arises from their being placed
under different conditions of production. Is there a different law for
international exchanges? To urge against international exchanges that
inequality of conditions which gives rise to them, and explains them,
is to argue against their very existence. If protectionists had on their
side sufficient logic and power, they would reduce men, like snails,
to a state of absolute isolation. Moreover, there is not one of their
sophisms which, when submitted to the test of rigorous deductions, does
not obviously tend to destruction and annihilation.

II. It is not true, in point of _fact_, that inequality of conditions
existing between two similar branches of industry entails necessarily
the ruin of that which is least favourably situated. On the turf, if
one horse gains the prize, the other loses it; but when two horses
are employed in useful labour, each produces a beneficial result in
proportion to its powers; and if the more vigorous renders the greater
service, it does not follow that the other renders no service at all.
We cultivate wheat in all the departments of France, although there are
between them enormous differences of fertility; and if there be any
one department which does not cultivate wheat, it is because it is not
profitable to engage in that species of culture in that locality. In the
same way, analogy shows us that under the _régime_ of liberty, in spite
of similar differences, they produce wheat in all the countries of
Europe; and if there be one which abandons the cultivation of that
grain, it is because it is found _more for its interest_ to give another
direction to the employment of its land, labour, and capital And why
should the fertility of one department not paralyze the agriculturist of
a neighbouring department which is less favourably situated? Because
the economic phenomena have a flexibility, an elasticity, _levelling
powers_, so to speak, which appear to have altogether escaped the notice
of the protectionist school. That school accuses us of being given up
to system; but it is the protectionists who are systematic in the last
degree, if the spirit of system consists in bolstering up arguments
which rest upon one fact instead of upon an aggregation of facts. In the
example which we have given, it is the difference in the value of lands
which compensates the difference in their fertility. Your field produces
three times more than mine. Yes, but it has cost you ten times more, and
I can still compete with you. This is the whole mystery. And observe,
that superiority in some respects leads to inferiority in others. It is
just because your land is more fertile that it is dearer; so that it
is not _accidentally_, but _necessarily_, that the equilibrium is
established, or tends to be established; and it cannot be denied that
liberty is the _régime_ which is most favourable to this tendency.

I have referred to a branch of agricultural industry; I might as well
have referred to industry in a different department. There are tailors
at Quimper, and that does not hinder there being tailors also in Paris,
though the latter pay a higher rent, and live at much greater expense.
But then they have a different set of customers, and that serves not
only to redress the balance, but to make it incline to their side.

When we speak, then, of equalizing the conditions of labour, we must not
omit to examine whether liberty does not give us what we seek from an
arbitrary system.

This natural levelling power of the economic phenomena is so important
to the question we are considering, and at the same time so fitted to
inspire us with admiration of the providential wisdom which presides
over the equitable government of society, that I must ask permission to
dwell upon it for a little.

The protectionist gentlemen tell us: Such or such a people have over
us an advantage in the cheapness of coal, of iron, of machinery, of
capital--we cannot compete with them.

We shall examine the proposition afterwards under all its aspects. At
present, I confine myself to the inquiry whether, when a superiority and
an inferiority are both present, they do not possess in themselves, the
one an ascending, the other a descending force, which must ultimately
bring them back to a just equilibrium.

Suppose two countries, A and B. A possesses over B all kinds of
advantages. You infer from this, that every sort of industry will
concentrate itself in A, and that B is powerless. A, you say, sells much
more than it buys; B buys much more than it sells. I might dispute this,
but I respect your hypothesis.

On this hypothesis, labour is much in demand in A, and will soon rise in
price there.

Iron, coal, land, food, capital, are much in demand in A, and they will
soon rise in price there.

Contemporaneously with this, labour, iron, coal, land, food, capital,
are in little request in B, and will soon fall in price there.

Nor is this all. While A is always selling, and B is always buying,
money passes from B to A. It becomes abundant in A, and scarce in B.

But abundance of money means that we must have plenty of it to buy
everything else. Then in A, to the _real dearness_ which arises from a
very active demand, there is added a _nominal dearness_, which is due to
a redundancy of the precious metals.

Scarcity of money means that little is required for each purchase. Then
in B a _nominal cheapness_ comes to be combined with _real cheapness_.

In these circumstances, industry will have all sorts of
motives--motives, if I may say so, carried to the highest degree of
intensity--to desert A and establish itself in B.

Or, to come nearer what would actually take place under such
circumstances, we may affirm that sudden displacements being so
repugnant to the nature of industry, such a transfer would not have been
so long delayed, but that from the beginning, under the free _régime_,
it would have gradually and progressively shared and distributed itself
between A and B, according to the laws of supply and demand--that is to
say, according to the laws of justice and utility.

And when I assert that if it were possible for industry to concentrate
itself upon one point, that very circumstance would set in motion an
irresistible decentralizing force, I indulge in no idle hypothesis.

Let us listen to what was said by a manufacturer in addressing the
Manchester Chamber of Commerce (I omit the figures by which he supported
his demonstration):--

"Formerly we exported stuffs; then that exportation gave place to that
of yams, which are the raw material of stuffs; then to that of machines,
which are the instruments for producing yarn; afterwards to the
exportation of the capital with which we construct our machines;
finally, to that of our workmen and our industrial skill, which are
the source of our capital. All these elements of labour, one after the
other, are set to work wherever they find the most advantageous opening,
wherever the expense of living is cheaper and the necessaries of
life are moat easily procured; and at the present day, in Prussia, in
Austria, in Saxony, in Switzerland, in Italy, we see manufactures on
an immense scale founded and supported by English capital, worked by
English operatives, and directed by English engineers."

You see very clearly, then, that nature, or rather that Providence, more
wise, more far-seeing than your narrow and rigid theory supposes,
has not ordered this concentration of industry, this monopoly of all
advantages upon which you found your reasoning as upon a fact which is
unalterable and without remedy. Nature has provided, by means as simple
as they are infallible, that there should be dispersion, diffusion,
solidarity, simultaneous progress; all constituting a state of things
which your restrictive laws paralyze as much as they can; for the
tendency of such laws is, by isolating communities, to render the
diversity of condition much more marked, to prevent equalization, hinder
fusion, neutralize countervailing circumstances, and segregate nations,
whether in their superiority or in their inferiority of condition.

III. In the third place, to contend that by a protective duty you
equalize the conditions of production, is to give currency to an error
by a deceptive form of speech. It is not true that an import duty
equalizes the conditions of production. These remain, after the
imposition of the duty, the same as they were before. At most, all that
such a duty equalizes are _the conditions of sale_. It may be said,
perhaps, that I am playing upon words, but I throw back the accusation.
It is for my opponents to show that _production and sale_ are synonymous
terms; and if they cannot do this, I am warranted in fastening upon them
the reproach, if not of playing on words, at least of mixing them up and
confusing them.

To illustrate what I mean by an example: I suppose some Parisian
speculators to devote themselves to the production of oranges. They know
that the oranges of Portugal can be sold in Paris for a penny apiece,
whilst they, on account of the frames and hot-houses which the colder
climate would render necessary, could not sell them for less than a
shilling as a remunerative price. They demand that Portuguese oranges
should have a duty of elevenpence imposed upon them. By means of this
duty, they say, the _conditions af production_ will be equalized;
and the Chamber, giving effect, as it always does, to such reasoning,
inserts in the tariff a duty of elevenpence upon every foreign orange.

Now, I maintain that the _conditions of production_ are in nowise
changed. The law has made no change on the heat of the sun of Lisbon, or
on the frequency and intensity of the frosts of Paris. The ripening of
oranges will continue to go on naturally on the banks of the Tagus, and
artificially on the banks of the Seine--that is to say, much more
human labour will be required in the one country than in the other. The
conditions of sale are what have been equalized. The Portuguese must now
sell us their oranges at a shilling, elevenpence of which goes to pay
the tax. That tax will be paid, it is evident, by the French consumer.
And look at the whimsical result. Upon each Portuguese orange consumed,
the country will lose nothing, for the extra elevenpence charged to the
consumer will be paid into the treasury. This will cause displacement,
but not loss. But upon each French orange consumed there will be a loss
of elevenpence, or nearly so, for the purchaser will certainly lose that
sum, and the seller as certainly will not gain it, seeing that by the
hypothesis he will only have received the cost price. I leave it to the
protectionists to draw the inference.

IV. If I have dwelt upon this distinction between the conditions
of production and the conditions of sale, a distinction which the
protectionists will no doubt pronounce paradoxical, it is because it
leads me to inflict on them another, and a much stranger, paradox, which
is this: Would you equalize effectually the conditions of production,
leave exchange free.

Now, really, it will be said, this is too much; you must be making game
of us. Well, then, were it only for curiosity, I entreat the gentlemen
protectionists to follow me on to the conclusion of my argument. It will
not be long. I revert to my former illustration.

Let us suppose for a moment that the average daily wage which a
Frenchman earns is equal to a shilling, and it follows incontestably
that to produce directly an orange in France, a day's work, or its
equivalent, is required; while to produce the value of a Portuguese
orange, only a twelfth part of that day's labour would be necessary;
which means exactly this, that the sun does at Lisbon what human labour
does at Paris. Now, is it not very evident that if I can produce an
orange, or, what comes to the same thing, the means of purchasing one,
with a twelfth part of a day's labour, I am placed, with respect to this
production, under exactly the same conditions as the Portuguese producer
himself, excepting the carriage, which must be at my expense. It is
certain, then, that liberty equalizes the conditions of production
direct or indirect, as far as they can be equalized, since it leaves
no other difference, but the inevitable one arising from the expense of

I add, that liberty equalizes also the conditions of enjoyment, of
satisfaction, of consumption, with which the protectionists never
concern themselves, and which are yet the essential consideration,
consumption being the end and object of all our industrial efforts. In
virtue of free trade, we enjoy the sun of Portugal like the Portuguese
themselves. The inhabitants of Havre and the citizens of London are put
in possession, and on the same conditions, of all the mineral resources
which nature has bestowed on Newcastle.

V. Gentlemen protectionists, you find me in a paradoxical humour; and I
am disposed to go further still. I say, and I sincerely think, that if
two countries are placed under unequal conditions of production, _it is
that one of the two which is least favoured by nature which has most
to gain by free trade_. To prove this, I must depart a little from the
usual form of such a work as this. I shall do so nevertheless, first of
all, because the entire question lies there, and also because it will
afford me an opportunity of explaining an economic law of the highest
importance, and which, if rightly understood, appears to me to be fitted
to bring back to the science all those sects who, in our day, seek in
the land of chimeras that social harmony which they fail to discover
in nature. I refer to the law of consumption, which it is perhaps to be
regretted that the majority of economists have neglected.

Consumption is the _end_ and final cause of all the economic phenomena,
and it is in consumption consequently that we must expect to find their
ultimate and definitive solution.

Nothing, whether favourable or unfavourable, can abide permanently with
the producer. The advantages which nature and society bestow upon him,
the inconveniences he may experience, glide past him, so to speak, and
are absorbed and mixed up with the community in as far as the community
represents consumers. This is an admirable law both in its cause and
in its effects, and he who shall succeed in clearly describing it is
entitled, in my opinion, to say, "I have not passed through life without
paying my tribute to society." Everything which favours the work of
production is welcomed with joy by the producer, for the _immediate
effect_ of it is to put him in a situation to render greater service
to the community, and to exact from it a greater remuneration. Every
circumstance which retards or interrupts production gives pain to
the producer, for the _immediate effect_ of it is to circumscribe his
services, and consequently his remuneration. _Immediate_ good or ill
circumstances--fortunate or unfortunate--necessarily fall upon the
producer, and leave him no choice but to accept the one and eschew the

In the same way, when a workman succeeds in discovering an improved
process in manufactures, the _immediate_ profit from the improvement
results to him. This was necessary, in order to give his labour an
intelligent direction; and it is just, because it is fair that an effort
crowned with success should carry its recompense along with it.

But I maintain that these good or bad effects, though in their own
nature permanent, are not permanent as regards the producer. If it had
been so, a principle of progressive, and, therefore, of indefinite,
inequality would have been introduced among men, and this is the reason
why these good or evil effects become very soon absorbed in the general
destinies of the human race.

How is this brought about? I shall show how it takes place by some

Let us go back to the thirteenth century. The men who then devoted
themselves to the art of copying received for the service which they
rendered _a remuneration regulated by the general rate of earnings_.*
Among them there arose one who discovered the means of multiplying
copies of the same work rapidly. He invented printing.

In the first instance, one man was enriched, and many others were
impoverished. At first sight, marvellous as the invention proves itself
to be, we hesitate to decide whether it is hurtful or useful. It seems
to introduce into the world, as I have said, an indefinite element
of inequality. Guttemberg profits by his invention, and extends his
invention with its profits indefinitely, until he has ruined all the
copyists. As regards the public, in the capacity of consumer, it gains
little; for Guttemberg takes care not to lower the price of his books,
but just enough to undersell his rivals.

But the intelligence which has introduced harmony into the movements of
the heavenly bodies, has implanted it also in the internal mechanism of
society. We shall see the economic advantages of the invention when it
has ceased to be individual property, and has become for ever the common
patrimony of the masses.

At length the invention comes to be known. Guttemberg is no longer the
only printer; others imitate him. Their profits' at first are large.
They are thus rewarded for having been the first to imitate the
invention; and it is right that it should be so, for this higher
remuneration was necessary to induce them to concur in the grand
definite result which is approaching. They gain a great deal, but they
gain less than the inventor, for _competition_ now begins its work.
The price of books goes on falling. The profit of imitators goes on
diminishing in proportion as the invention becomes of older date; that
is to say, in proportion as the imitation becomes less meritorious.....

     * The author, here and elsewhere, uses the French word
     _profits_; but it is clear from the context that he does not
     refer to the returns from capital, in which sense alone the
     English economists employ the term _profits_. We have
     therefore substituted the words _earnings or wages_.--

The new branch of industry at length reaches its normal state; in other
words, the remuneration of printers ceases to be exceptionally high, and
comes, like that of the copyist, to be _regulated by the ordinary rate
of earnings_. Here we have production, as such, brought back to the
point from which it started. And yet the invention is not the less an
acquisition; the saving of time, of labour, of effort to produce a given
result, that is, to produce a determinate number of copies, is not the
less realized. But how does it show itself? In the cheapness of books.
And to whose profit? To the profit of the consumer, of society, of the
human race. The printers, who have thenceforth no exceptional merit,
no longer receive exceptional remuneration. As men, as consumers,
they undoubtedly participate in the advantages which the invention
has conferred upon the community. But that is all. As printers, as
producers, they have returned to the ordinary condition of the other
producers of the country. Society pays them for their labour, and not
for the utility of the invention. The latter has become the common and
gratuitous heritage of mankind at large.

I confess that the wisdom and the beauty of these laws call forth my
admiration and respect. I see in them Saint-Simonianism:

_To each according to his capacity; to each capacity according to its
works_. I see in them, communism; that is, the tendency of products
to become the _common_ heritage of men; but a Saint-Simonianism, a
communism, regulated by infinite prescience, and not abandoned to the
frailties, the passions, and the arbitrary will of men.

What I have said of the art of printing, may be affirmed of all the
instruments of labour, from the nail and the hammer to the locomotive
and the electric telegraph. Society becomes possessed of all through
its more abundant consumption, and _it enjoys all gratuitously_, for
the effect of inventions and discoveries is to reduce the price of
commodities; and all that part of the price which has been annihilated,
and which represents the share invention has in production, evidently
renders the product gratuitous to that extent. All that remains to be
paid for is the human labour, the immediate labour, /and it is paid for
without reference to the result of the invention, at least when that
invention has passed through the cycle I have just described--the cycle
which it is designed to pass through. I send for a tradesman to my
house; he comes and brings his saw with him; I pay him two shillings for
his day's work, and he saws me twenty-five boards. Had the saw not been
invented, he would probably not have made out to furnish me with one,
and I should have had to pay him the same wages for his day's work.
The _utility_ produced by the saw is then, as far as I am concerned, a
gratuitous gift of nature, or rather it is a part of that inheritance
which, _in common_ with all my brethren, I have received from my
ancestors. I have two workmen in my field. The one handles the plough,
the other the spade. The result of their labour is very different,
but the day's wages are the same, because the remuneration is not
proportioned to the utility produced, but to the effort, the labour,
which is exacted.

I entreat the reader's patience, and beg him to believe that I have not
lost sight of free trade. Let him only have the goodness to remember the
conclusion at which I have arrived: _Remuneration is not in proportion
to the utilities which the producer brings to market, but to his

     * It is true that labour does not receive a uniform
     remuneration. It may be more or less intense, dangerous,
     skilled, etc. Competition settles the usual or current price
     in each department--and this is the fluctuating price of
     which I speak.

I have drawn my illustrations as yet from human inventions. Let us now
turn our attention to natural advantages.

In every branch of production, nature and man concur. But the portion
of utility which nature contributes is always gratuitous. It is only
the portion of utility which human labour contributes which forms the
subject of exchange, and, consequently, of remuneration. The latter
varies, no doubt, very much in proportion to the intensity of the
labour, its skill, its promptitude, its suitableness, the need there
is of it, the temporary absence of rivalry, etc. But it is not the less
true, in principle, that the concurrence of natural laws, which are
common to all, counts for nothing in the price of the product.

We do not pay for the air we breathe, although it is so _useful_ to us,
that, without it, we could not live two minutes. We do not pay for it,
nevertheless; because nature furnishes it to us without the aid of human
labour. But if, for example, we should desire to separate one of the
gases of which it is composed, to make an experiment, we must make an
exertion; or if we wish another to make that exertion for us, we must
sacrifice for that other an equivalent amount of exertion, although
we may have embodied it in another product. Whence we see that pains,
efforts, and exertions are the real subjects of exchange. It is not,
indeed, the oxygen gas that I pay for, since it is at my disposal
everywhere, but the labour necessary to disengage it, labour which has
been saved me, and which must be recompensed. Will it be said that there
is something else to be paid for, materials, apparatus, etc.? Still, in
paying for these, I pay for labour. The price of the coal employed, for
example, represents the labour necessary to extract it from the mine and
to transport it to the place where it is to be used.

We do not pay for the light of the sim, because it is a gift of nature.
But we pay for gas, tallow, oil, wax, because there is here human labour
to be remunerated; and it will be remarked that, in this case, the
remuneration is proportioned, not to the utility produced, but to the
labour employed, so much so that it may happen that one of these kinds
of artificial light, though more intense, costs us less, and for this
reason, that the same amount of human labour affords us more of it.

Were the porter who carries water to my house to be paid in proportion
to the _absolute utility_ of water, my whole fortune would be
insufficient to remunerate him. But I pay him in proportion to the
exertion he makes. If he charges more, others will do the work, or, if
necessary, I will do it myself. Water, in truth, is not the subject of
our bargain, but the labour of carrying it. This view of the matter is
so important, and the conclusions which I am about to deduce from it
throw so much light on the question of the freedom of international
exchanges, that I deem it necessary to elucidate it by other examples.

The alimentary substance contained in potatoes is not very costly,
because we can obtain a large amount of it with comparatively little
labour. We pay more for wheat, because the production of it costs a
greater amount of human labour. It is evident that if nature did for
the one what it does for the other, the price of both would tend to
equality. It is impossible that the producer of wheat should permanently
gain much more than the producer of potatoes. The law of competition
would prevent it.

If by a happy miracle the fertility of all arable lands should come to
be augmented, it would not be the agriculturist, but the consumer, who
would reap advantage from that phenomenon for it would resolve itself
into abundance and cheapness. There would be less labour incorporated
in each quarter of corn, and the cultivator could exchange it only for
a smaller amount of labour worked up in some other product. If, on the
other hand, the fertility of the soil came all at once to be diminished,
nature's part in the process of production would be less, that of human
labour would be greater, and the product dearer. I am, then, warranted
in saying that it is in consumption, in the human element, that all the
economic phenomena come ultimately to resolve themselves. The man who
has failed to regard them in this light, to follow them out to their
ultimate effects, without stopping short at _immediate_ results, and
viewing them from the _producer's_ standpoint, can no more be regarded
as an economist than the man who should prescribe a draught, and,
instead of watching its effect on the entire system of the patient,
should inquire only how it affected the mouth and throat, could be
regarded as a physician.

Tropical regions are very favourably situated for the production of
sugar and of coffee. This means that nature does a great part of the
work, and leaves little for human labour to do. But who reaps the
advantage of this liberality of nature? Not the producing countries, for
competition causes the price barely to remunerate the labour. It is the
human race that reaps the benefit, for the result of nature's liberality
is cheapness, and cheapness benefits everybody.

Suppose a temperate region where coal and iron-ore are found on the
surface of the ground, where one has only to stoop down to get them.
That, in the first instance, the inhabitants would profit by this happy
circumstance, I allow. But competition would soon intervene, and the
price of coal and iron-ore would go on falling, till the gift of nature
became free to all, and then the human labour employed would be alone
remunerated according to the general rate of earnings.

Thus the liberality of nature, like improvements in the processes
of production, is, or continually tends to become, under the law of
competition, the common and gratuitous patrimony of consumers, of the
masses, of mankind in general. Then, the countries which do not possess
these advantages have everything to gain by exchanging their products
with those countries which possess them, because the subject of exchange
is _labour_, apart from the consideration of the natural utilities
worked up with that labour; and the countries which have incorporated
in a given amount of their labour the greatest amount of these _natural
utilities_, are evidently the most favoured countries. Their products
which represent the least amount of human labour are the least
profitable; in other words, they _are cheaper_; and if the whole
liberality of nature resolves itself into _cheapness_, it is evidently
not the producing, but the consuming, country which reaps the benefit.

Hence we see the enormous absurdity of consuming countries which reject
products for the very reason that they are cheap. It is as if they said,
"We want nothing that nature gives us. You ask me for an effort equal to
two, in exchange for a product which I cannot create without an effort
equal to four; you can make that effort, because in your case nature
does half the work. Be it so; I reject your offer, and I shall wait
until your climate, having become more inclement, will force you to
demand from me an effort equal to four, in order that I may treat with
you _on a footing of equality_."

A is a favoured country. B is a country to which nature has been less
bountiful. I maintain that exchange benefits both, but benefits B
especially; because exchange is not an exchange of _utilities for
utilities_, but _of value for value_. Now A includes _a greater amount
of utility in the same value_, seeing that the utility of a product
includes what nature has put there, as well as what labour has put
there; whilst value includes only what labour has put there. Then B
makes quite an advantageous bargain. In recompensing the producer of A
for his labour only, it receives into the bargain a greater amount of
natural utility than it has given.

This enables us to lay down the general rule: Exchange is a barter of
_values_; value under the action of competition being made to represent
labour, exchange becomes a barter of equal labour. What nature has
imparted to the products exchanged is on both sides given _gratuitously
and into the bargain_; whence it follows necessarily that exchanges
effected with countries the most favoured by nature are the most

The theory of which in this chapter I have endeavoured to trace the
outlines would require great developments. I have glanced at it only
in as far as it bears upon my subject of free trade. But perhaps the
attentive reader may have perceived in it the fertile germ which in the
rankness of its maturity will not only smother protection, but, along
with it, _Fourierisrme, Saint-Simonianisme, communisme_, and all those
schools whose object it is to exclude from the government of the world
the law of _competition_. Regarded from the producer's point of view,
competition no doubt frequently clashes with our _immediate_ and
individual interests; but if we change our point of view and extend our
regards to industry in general, to universal prosperity--in a word, to
_consumption_--we shall find that competition in the moral world plays
the same part which equilibrium does in the material world. It lies
at the root of true communism, of true socialism, of that equality of
conditions and of happiness so much desired in our day; and if so
many sincere publicists, and well-meaning reformers seek after the
_arbitrary_, it is for this reason--that they do not understand

     * The theory sketched in this chapter, is the same which,
     four years afterwards, was developed in the _Harmonies
     Économiques_. Remuneration reserved exclusively for human
     labour; the gratuitous nature of natural agents; progressive
     conquest of these agents, to the profit of mankind, whose
     common property they thus become; elevation of general
     wellbeing and tendency to relative equalization of
     conditions; we recognise here the essential elements of the
     most important of all the works of Bastiat.--Editor.


We have here again the same sophism. We demand that foreign products
should be taxed to neutralize the effect of the taxes which weigh
upon our national products. The object, then, still is to equalize the
conditions of production. We have only a word to say, and it is this:
that the tax is an artificial obstacle which produces exactly the same
result as a natural obstacle, its effect is to enhance prices. If this
enhancement reach a point which makes it a greater loss to create the
product for ourselves than to procure it from abroad by producing a
counter value, _laissez faire_, let well alone. Of two evils, private
interest will do well to choose the least. I might, then, simply refer
the reader to the preceding demonstration; but the sophism which we have
here to combat recurs so frequently in the lamentations and demands, I
might say in the challenges, of the protectionist school, as to merit a
special discussion.

If the question relate to one of those exceptional taxes which are
imposed on certain products, I grant readily that it is reasonable to
impose the same duty on the foreign product. For example, it would be
absurd to exempt foreign salt from duty; not that, in an economical
point of view, France would lose anything by doing so, but the reverse.
Let them say what they will, principles are always the same; and France
would gain by the exemption as she must always gain by removing a
natural or artificial obstacle. But in this instance the obstacle
has been interposed for purposes of revenue. These purposes must be
attained; and were foreign salt sold in our market duty free, the
Treasury would lose its hundred millions of francs (four millions
sterling); and must raise that sum from some other source. There would
be an obvious inconsistency in creating an obstacle, and failing in
the object. It might have been better to have had recourse at first
to another tax than that upon French salt. But I admit that there are
certain circumstances in which a tax may be laid on foreign commodities,
provided it is not _protective_, but fiscal.

But to pretend that a nation, because she is subjected to heavier taxes
than her neighbours, should protect herself by tariffs against the
competition of her rivals, in this is a sophism, and it is this sophism
which I intend to attack.

I have said more than once that I propose only to explain the theory,
and lay open, as far as possible, the sources of protectionist
errors. Had I intended to raise a controversy, I should have asked the
protectionists why they direct their tariffs chiefly against England
and Belgium, the most heavily taxed countries in the world? Am I not
warranted in regarding their argument only as a pretext? But I am
not one of those who believe that men are prohibitionists from
self-interest, and not from conviction. The doctrine of protection is
too popular not to be sincere. If the majority had faith in liberty, we
should be free. Undoubtedly it is self-interest which makes our tariffs
so heavy; but conviction is at the root of it. "The will," says Pascal,
"is one of the principal organs of belief." But the belief exists
nevertheless, although it has its root in the will, and in the insidious
suggestions of egotism.

Let us revert to the sophism founded on taxation.

The State may make a good or a bad use of the taxes which it levies.
When it renders to the public services which are equivalent to the value
it receives, it makes a good use of them. And when it dissipates its
revenues without giving any service in return, it makes a bad use of

In the first case, to affirm that the taxes place the country which pays
them under conditions of production more unfavourable than those of a
country which is exempt from them, is a sophism. We pay twenty millions
of francs for justice and police; but then we have them, with the
security they afford us, and the time which they save us; and it is very
probable that production is neither more easy nor more active in those
countries, if there are any such, where the people take the business
of justice and police into their own hands. We pay many hundreds
of millions (of francs) for roads, bridges, harbours, and railways.
Granted; but then we have the benefit of these roads, bridges,
harbours, and railways; and whether we make a good or a bad bargain in
constructing them, it cannot be said that they render us inferior to
other nations, who do not indeed support a budget of public works,
but who have no public works. And this explains why, whilst accusing
taxation of being a cause of industrial inferiority, we direct our
tariffs especially against those countries which are the most heavily
taxed. Their taxes, well employed, far from deteriorating, have
ameliorated, _the conditions of production_ in these countries. Thus we
are continually arriving at the conclusion that protectionist sophisms
are not only not true, but are the very reverse of true.*

     * See Harmonies Économiques, ch. xvii.

If taxes are improductive, suppress them, if you can; but assuredly
the strangest mode of neutralizing their effect is to add individual to
public taxes. Fine compensation truly! You tell us that the State
taxes are too much; and you give that as a reason why we should tax one

A protective duty is a tax directed against a foreign product; but
we must never forget that it falls back on the home consumer. Now the
consumer is the tax-payer. The agreeable language you address to him is
this: "Because your taxes are heavy, we raise the price of everything
you buy; because the State lays hold of one part of your income, we hand
over another to the monopolist."

But let us penetrate a little deeper into this sophism, which is in such
repute with our legislators, although the extraordinary thing is that it
is just the very people who maintain unproductive taxes who attribute to
them our industrial inferiority, and in that inferiority find an excuse
for imposing other taxes and restrictions.

It appears evident to me that the nature and effects of protection would
not be changed, were the State to levy a direct tax and distribute the
money afterwards in premiums and indemnities to the privileged branches
of industry.

Suppose that while foreign iron cannot be sold in our market below eight
francs, French iron cannot be sold for less than twelve francs.

On this hypothesis, there are two modes in which the State can secure
the home market to the producer.

The first mode is to lay a duty of five francs on foreign iron. It is
evident that that duty would exclude it, since it could no longer be
sold under thirteen francs, namely, eight francs for the cost price, and
five francs for the tax, and at that price it would be driven out of the
market by French iron, the price of which we suppose to be only twelve
francs. In this case, the purchaser, the consumer, would be at the whole
cost of the protection.

Or again, the State might levy a tax of five francs from the public, and
give the proceeds as a premium to the ironmaster. The protective effect
would be the same. Foreign iron would in this case be equally excluded;
for our ironmaster can now sell his iron at seven francs, which, with
the five francs premium, would make up to him the remunerative price of
twelve francs. But with home iron at seven francs the foreigner
could not sell his for eight, which by the supposition is his lowest
remunerative price.

Between these two modes of going to work, I can see only one difference.
The principle is the same; the effect is the same; but in the one,
certain individuals pay the price of protection; in the other, it is
paid for by the nation at large.

I frankly avow my predilection for the second mode. It appears to me
more just, more economical, and more honourable; more just, because if
society desires to give largesses to some of its members, all should
contribute; more economical, because it would save much expense in
collecting, and get us rid of many restrictions; more honourable,
because the public would then see clearly the nature of the operation,
and act accordingly.

But if the protectionist system had taken this form, it would have been
laughable to hear men say, "We pay heavy taxes for the army, for the
navy, for the administration of justice, for public works, for
the university, the public debt, etc.--in all exceeding a milliard
[£40,000,000 sterling]. For this reason, the State should take another
milliard from us, to relieve these poor ironmasters, these poor
shareholders in the coal-mines of Anzin, these unfortunate proprietors
of forests, these useful men who supply us with cod-fish."

Look at the subject closely, and you will be satisfied that this is the
true meaning and effect of the sophism we are combating. It is all in
vain; you cannot _give money_ to some members of the community but by
taking it from others. If you desire to ruin the tax-payer, you may do
so. But at least do not banter him by saying, "In order to compensate
your losses, I take from you again as much as I have taken from you
already." To expose fully all that is false in this sophism would be an
endless work. I shall confine myself to three observations. You assert
that the country is overburdened with taxes, and on this fact you found
an argument for the protection of certain branches of industry. But we
have to pay these taxes in spite of protection. If, then, a particular
branch of industry presents itself, and says, "I share in the payment
of taxes; that raises the cost price of my products, and I demand that a
protecting duty should also raise their selling price," what does such
a demand amount to? It amounts simply to this, that the tax should be
thrown over on the rest of the community. The object sought for is to
be reimbursed the amount of the tax by a rise of prices. But as the
Treasury requires to have the full amount of all the taxes, and as the
masses have to pay the higher price, it follows that they have to bear
not only their own share of taxation but that of the particular branch
of industry which is protected. But we mean to protect everybody, you
will say. I answer, in the first place, that that is impossible; and,
in the next place, that if it were possible, there would be no relief.
I would pay for you, and you would pay for me; but the tax must be paid
all the same.

You are thus the dupes of an illusion. You wish in the first instance
to pay taxes in order that you may have an army, a navy, a church,
a university, judges, highways, etc., and then you wish to free from
taxation first one branch of industry, then a second, then a third,
always throwing back the burden upon the masses. You do nothing more
than create interminable complications, without any other result than
these complications themselves. Show me that a rise of price caused
by protection falls upon the foreigner, and I could discover in your
argument something specious. But if it be true that the public pays
the tax before your law, and that after the law is passed it pays for
protection and the tax into the bargain, truly I cannot see what is
gained by it.

But I go further, and maintain that the heavier our taxes are, the more
we should hasten to throw open our ports and our frontiers to foreigners
less heavily taxed than ourselves. And why? In order to throw back upon
them a greater share of our burden. Is it not an incontestable axiom in
political economy that taxes ultimately fall on the consumer? The more,
then, our exchanges are multiplied, the more will foreign consumers
reimburse us for the taxes incorporated and worked up in the products
we sell them; whilst we in this respect will have to make them a smaller
restitution, seeing that their products, according to our hypothesis,
are less heavily burdened than ours.

In fine, have you never asked yourselves whether these heavy burdens on
which you found your argument for a prohibitory régime are not caused
by that very régime? If commerce were free, what use would you have for
your great standing armies and powerful navies?.... But this belongs to
the domain of politics.

     Et ne confondons pas, pour trop approfondir,
     Leurs affaires avec les nôtres.


Our adversaries have adopted tactics which are rather embarrassing.
Do we establish our doctrine? They admit it with the greatest possible
respect. Do we attack their principle? They abandon it with the best
grace in the world. They demand only one thing--that our doctrine, which
they hold to be true, should remain relegated in books, and that their
principle, which they acknowledge to be vicious, should reign paramount
in practical legislation. Resign to them the management of tariffs, and
they will give up all dispute with you in the domain of theory.

"Assuredly," said M. Gauthier de Rumilly, on a recent occasion, "no one
wishes to resuscitate the antiquated theories of the balance of trade."
Very right, Monsieur Gauthier, but please to remember that it is not
enough to give a passing slap to error, and immediately afterwards, and
for two hours together, reason as if that error were truth.

Let me speak of M. Lestiboudois. Here we have a consistent reasoner, a
logical disputant. There is nothing in his conclusions which is not
to be found in his premises. He asks nothing in practice, but what
he justifies in theory. His principle may be false; that is open to
question. But, at any rate, he has a principle. He believes, and he
proclaims it aloud, that if France gives ten, in order to receive
fifteen, she loses five; and it follows, of course, that he supports
laws which are in keeping with this view of the subject "The important
thing to attend to," he says, "is that the amount of our importations
goes on augmenting, and exceeds the amount of our exportations--that
is to say, France every year purchases more foreign products, and sells
less of her own. Figures prove this. What do we see? In 1842, imports
exceeded exports by 200 millions. These facts appear to prove in the
clearest manner that national industry _is not sufficiently protected_,
that we depend upon foreign labour for our supplies, that the
competition of our rivals _oppresses_ our industry. The present law
appears to me to recognise the fact, which is not true according to the
economists, that when we purchase we necessarily sell a corresponding
amount of commodities. It is evident that we can purchase, not with our
usual products, not with our revenue, not with the results of permanent
labour, but with our capital, with products which have been accumulated
and stored up, those intended for reproduction--that is to say, that we
may expend, that we may dissipate, the proceeds of anterior economies,
that we may impoverish ourselves, that we may proceed on the road to
ruin, and consume entirely the national capital. _This is exactly what
we are doing. Every year we give away 200 millions of francs to the

Well, here is a man with whom we can come to an understanding. There is
no hypocrisy in this language. The doctrine of the balance of trade is
openly avowed. France imports 200 millions more than she exports.
Then we lose 200 millions a year. And what is the remedy? To place
restrictions on importation. The conclusion is unexceptionable.

It is with M. Lestiboudois, then, that we must deal, for how can we
argue with M. Gauthier? If you tell him that the balance of trade is an
error, he replies that that was what he laid down at the beginning. If
you say that the balance of trade is a truth, he will reply that that is
what he proves in his conclusions.

The economist school will blame me, no doubt, for arguing with M.
Lestiboudois. To attack the balance of trade, it will be said, is to
fight with a windmill.

But take care. The doctrine of the balance of trade is neither so
antiquated, nor so sick, nor so dead as M. Gauthier would represent it,
for the entire Chamber--M. Gauthier himself included--has recognised by
its votes the theory of M. Lestiboudois.

I shall not fatigue the reader by proceeding to probe that theory, but
content myself with subjecting it to the test of facts.

We are constantly told that our principles do not hold good, except in
theory. But tell me, gentlemen, if you regard the books of merchants as
holding good in practice? It appears to me that if there is anything
in the world which should have practical authority, when the question
regards profit and loss, it is commercial accounts. Have all the
merchants in the world come to an understanding for centuries to keep
their books in such a way as to represent profits as losses, and losses
as profits? It may be so, but I would much rather come to the conclusion
that M. Lestiboudois is a bad economist.

Now, a merchant of my acquaintance having had two transactions, the
results of which were very different, I felt curious to compare the
books of the counting-house with the books of the Customhouse, as
interpreted by M. Lestiboudois to the satisfaction of our six hundred

M. T. despatched a ship from Havre to the United States, with a cargo of
French goods, chiefly those known as _articles de Paris_, amounting to
200,000 francs. This was the figure declared at the Customhouse. When
the cargo arrived at New Orleans it was charged with 10 per cent,
freight and 30 per cent, duty, making a total of 280,000 francs. It was
sold with 20 per cent, profit, or 40,000 francs, and produced a total of
320,000 francs, which the consignee invested in cottons. These cottons
had still for freight, insurance, commission, etc., to bear a cost of
10 per cent. so that when the new cargo arrived at Havre it had cost
352,000 francs, which was the figure entered in the Customhouse books.
Finally M. T. realized upon this return cargo 20 per cent, profit, or
70,400 francs; in other words, the cottons were sold for 422,400 francs.

If M. Lestiboudois desires it, I shall send him an extract from the
books of M. T. He will there see _at the credit_ of the _profit and
loss_ account--that is to say, as profits--two entries, one of 40,000,
another of 70,400 francs, and M. T. is very sure that his accounts are

And yet, what do the Customhouse books tell M. Lestiboudois regarding
this transaction? They tell him simply that France exported 200,000
francs' worth, and imported to the extent of 352,000 francs; whence the
honourable deputy concludes "_that she had expended, and dissipated the
profits of her anterior economies, that she is impoverishing herself
that she is on the high road to ruin, and has given away to the
foreigner 152,000 francs of her capital_."

Some time afterwards, M. T. despatched another vessel with a cargo also
of the value of 200,000 francs, composed of the products of our native
industry. This unfortunate ship was lost in a gale of wind after leaving
the harbour, and all M. T. had to do was to make two short entries in
his books, to this effect:--

"_Sundry goods debtors to X_, 200,000 francs, for purchases of different
commodities despatched by the ship N.

"_Profit and loss debtors to sundry goods_, 200,000 francs, in
consequence of _definitive and total loss_ of the cargo."

At the same time, the Customhouse books bore an entry of 200.000 francs
in the list of _exportations_; and as there was no corresponding entry
to make in the list of _importations_, it follows that M. Lestiboudois
and the Chamber will see in this shipwreck _a clear and net profit_ for
France of 200,000 francs.

There is still another inference to be deduced from this, which is,
that according to the theory of the balance of trade, France has a very
simple means of doubling her capital at any moment. It is enough to pass
them through the Customhouse, and then pitch them into the sea. In this
case the exports will represent the amount of her capital, the imports
will be _nil_, and even impossible, and we shall gain all that the sea
swallows up.

This is a joke, the protectionists will say. It is impossible' we could
give utterance to such absurdities. You do give utterance to them,
however, and, what is more, you act upon them, and impose them on your
fellow-citizens to the utmost of your power.

The truth is, it would be necessary to take the balance of trade
_backwards [au rebours]_, and calculate the national profits from
foreign trade by the excess of imports over exports. This excess, after
deducting costs, constitutes the real profit. But this theory, which
is true, leads directly to free trade. I make you a present of it,
gentlemen, as I do of all the theories in the preceding chapters.
Exaggerate it as much as you please--it has nothing to fear from that
test. Suppose, if that amuses you, that the foreigner inundates us with
all sorts of useful commodities without asking anything in return, that
our imports are _infinite_ and exports _nil_, I defy you to prove to me
that we should be poorer on that account.



To Messieurs the Members of the Chamber of Deputies.

Gentlemen,--You are on the right road. You reject abstract theories, and
have little consideration for cheapness and plenty Your chief care is
the interest of the producer. You desire to emancipate him from external
competition, and reserve the _national market for national industry_.

We are about to offer you an admirable opportunity of applying
your--what shall we call it? your theory? No; nothing is more deceptive
than theory; your doctrine? your system? your principle? but you dislike
doctrines, you abhor systems, and as for principles, you deny that
there are any in social economy: we shall say, then, your practice, your
practice without theory and without principle.

We are suffering from the intolerable competition of a foreign rival,
placed, it would seem, in a condition so far superior to ours for the
production of light, that he absolutely _inundates our national market_
with it at a price fabulously reduced. The moment he shows himself,
our trade leaves us--all consumers apply to him; and a branch of native
industry, having countless ramifications, is all at once rendered
completely stagnant. This rival, who is no other than the Sun, wages war
to the knife against us, and we suspect that he has been raised up by
_perfidious Albion_ (good policy as times go); inasmuch as he displays
towards that haughty island a circumspection with which he dispenses in
our case.

What we pray for is, that it may please you to pass a law ordering the
shutting up of all windows, sky-lights, dormer-windows, outside and
inside shutters, curtains, blinds, bull's-eyes; in a word, of all
openings, holes, chinks, clefts, and fissures, by or through which the
light of the sun has been in use to enter houses, to the prejudice of
the meritorious manufactures with which we flatter ourselves we have
accommodated our country,--a country which, in gratitude, ought not to
abandon us now to a strife so unequal.

We trust, Gentlemen, that you will not regard this our request as a
satire, or refuse it without at least previously hearing the reasons
which we have to urge in its support.

And, first, if you shut up as much as possible all access to natural
light, and create a demand for artificial light, which of our French
manufactures will not be encouraged by it?

If more tallow is consumed, then there must be more oxen and sheep; and,
consequently, we shall behold the multiplication of artificial meadows,
meat, wool, hides, and, above all, manure, which is the basis and
foundation of all agricultural wealth.

If more oil is consumed, then we shall have an extended cultivation of
the poppy, of the olive, and of rape. These rich and exhausting plants
will come at the right time to enable us to avail ourselves of the
increased fertility which the rearing of additional cattle will impart
to our lands.

Our heaths will be covered with resinous trees. Numerous swarms of bees
will, on the mountains, gather perfumed treasures, now wasting their
fragrance on the desert air, like the flowers from which they emanate.
No branch of agriculture but will then exhibit a cheering development.

The same remark applies to navigation. Thousands of vessels will proceed
to the whale fishery; and, in a short time, we shall possess a navy
capable of maintaining the honour of France, and gratifying the
patriotic aspirations of your petitioners, the undersigned candlemakers
and others.

But what shall we say of the manufacture of _articles de Paris?_
Henceforth you will behold gildings, bronzes, crystals, in candlesticks,
in lamps, in lustres, in candelabra, shining forth, in spacious
warerooms, compared with which those of the present day can be regarded
but as mere shops.

No poor _resinier_ from his heights on the seacoast, no coalminer from
the depth of his sable gallery, but will rejoice in higher wages and
increased prosperity.

Only have the goodness to reflect, Gentlemen, and you will be convinced
that there is, perhaps, no Frenchman, from the wealthy coalmaster to the
humblest vender of lucifer matches, whose lot will not be ameliorated by
the success of this our petition.

We foresee your objections, Gentlemen, but we know that you can oppose
to us none but such as you have picked up from the effete works of the
partisans of free trade. We defy you to utter a single word against
us which will not instantly rebound against yourselves and your entire

You will tell us that, if we gain by the protection which we seek, the
country will lose by it, because the consumer must bear the loss.

We answer:

You have ceased to have any right to invoke the interest of the
consumer; for, whenever his interest is found opposed to that of the
producer, you sacrifice the former. You have done so for the purpose of
_encouraging labour and increasing employment_. For the same reason you
should do so again.

You have yourselves obviated this objection. When you are told that
the consumer is interested in the free importation of iron, coal, corn,
textile fabrics--yes, you reply, but the producer is interested in their
exclusion. Well, be it so;--if consumers are interested in the free
admission of natural light, the producers of artificial light are
equally interested in its prohibition.

But, again, you may say that the producer and consumer are identical. If
the manufacturer gain by protection, he will make the agriculturist
also a gainer; and if agriculture prosper, it will open a vent
to manufactures. Very well; if you confer upon us the monopoly of
furnishing light during the day,--first of all, we shall purchase
quantities of tallow, coals, oils, resinous substances, wax,
alcohol--besides silver, iron, bronze, crystal--to carry on our
manufactures; and then we, and those who furnish us with such
commodities, having become rich will consume a great deal, and impart
prosperity to all the other branches of our national industry.

If you urge that the light of the sun is a gratuitous gift of nature,
and that to reject such gifts is to reject wealth itself under pretence
of encouraging the means of acquiring it, we would caution you against
giving a death-blow to your own policy. Remember that hitherto you have
always repelled foreign products, because they approximate more nearly
than home products to the character of gratuitous gifts. To comply with
the exactions of other monopolists, you have only _half a motive_; and
to repulse us simply because we stand on a stronger vantage-ground than
others would be to adopt the equation, + x + = -; in other words, it
would be to heap _absurdity upon absurdity_.

Nature and human labour co-operate in various proportions (depending on
countries and climates) in the production of commodities. The part which
nature executes is always gratuitous; it is the part executed by human
labour which constitutes value, and is paid for.

If a Lisbon orange sells for half the price of a Paris orange, it is
because natural, and consequently gratuitous, heat does for the one,
what artificial, and therefore expensive, heat must do for the other.

When an orange comes to us from Portugal, we may conclude that it is
furnished in part gratuitously, in part for an onerous consideration;
in other words, it comes to us at _half-price_ as compared with those of

Now, it is precisely the _gratuitous half_ (pardon the word) which we
contend should be excluded. You say, How can natural labour sustain
competition with foreign labour, when the former has all the work to do,
and the latter only does one-half, the sun supplying the remainder? But
if this half being gratuitous, determines you to exclude competition,
how should the whole, being gratuitous, induce you to admit competition?
If you were consistent, you would, while excluding as hurtful to native
industry what is half gratuitous, exclude _a fortiori_ and with double
zeal, that which is altogether gratuitous.

Once more, when products such as coal, iron, corn, or textile fabrics,
are sent us from abroad, and we can acquire them with less labour than
if we made them ourselves, the difference is a free gift conferred
upon us. The gift is more or less considerable in proportion as the
difference is more or less great. It amounts to a quarter, a half, or
three-quarters of the value of the product, when the foreigner only
asks us for three-fourths, a half, or a quarter of the price we should
otherwise pay. It is as perfect and complete as it can be, when the
donor (like the sun in furnishing us with light) asks us for nothing.
The question, and we ask it formally, is this, Do you desire for
our country the benefit of gratuitous consumption, or the pretended
advantages of onerous production? Make your choice, but be logical; for
as long as you exclude as you do, coal, iron, com, foreign fabrics, in
proportion as their price approximates to zero, what inconsistency would
it be to admit the light of the sun, the price of which is already at
_zero_ during the entire day!


A poor vine-dresser of the Gironde had trained with fond enthusiasm a
slip of vine, which, after much fatigue and much labour, yielded him, at
length, a tun of wine; and his success made him forget that each drop
of this precious nectar had cost his brow a drop of sweat. "I shall
sell it," said he to his wife, "and with the price I shall buy stuff
sufficient to enable you to furnish a trousseau for our daughter." The
honest countryman repaired to the nearest town, and met a Belgian and an
Englishman. The Belgian said to him: "Give me your cask of wine, and
I will give you in exchange fifteen parcels of stuff." The Englishman
said: "Give me your wine, and I will give you twenty parcels of stuff;
for we English can manufacture the stuff cheaper than the Belgians." But
a Customhouse officer, who was present, interposed, and said: "My good
friend, exchange with the Belgian if you think proper, but my orders
are to prevent you from making an exchange with the Englishman." "What!"
exclaimed the countryman; "you wish me to be content with fifteen
parcels of stuff which have come from Brussels, when I can get twenty
parcels which have come from Manchester?" "Certainly; don't you see
that France would be a loser if you received twenty parcels, instead
of fifteen?" "I am at a loss to understand you," said the vine-dresser,
"And I am at a loss to explain it," rejoined the Customhouse official;
"but the thing is certain, for all our deputies, ministers, and
journalists agree in this, that the more a nation receives in exchange
for a given quantity of its products, the more it is impoverished." The
peasant found it necessary to conclude a bargain with the Belgian. The
daughter of the peasant got only three-quarters of her trousseau; and
these simple people are still asking themselves how it happens that one
is ruined by receiving four instead of three; and why a person is richer
with three dozens of towels than with four dozens.


At a time when everybody is bent on bringing about a saving in the
expense of transport--and when, in order to effect this saving, we are
forming roads and canals, improving our steamers, and connecting Paris
with all our frontiers by a network of railways--at a time, too, when I
believe we are ardently and sincerely seeking a solution of the problem,
_how to bring the prices of commodities, in the place where they are to
be consumed, as nearly as possible to the level of their prices in the
place where they were produced_,--I should think myself wanting to
my country, to my age, and to myself, if I kept longer secret the
marvellous discovery which I have just made.

The illusions of inventors are proverbial, but I am positively certain
that I have discovered an infallible means of bringing products from
every part of the world to France, and _vice versa_ at a considerable
reduction of cost.

Infallible, did I say? Its being infallible is only one of the
advantages of my invention.

It requires neither plans, estimates, preparatory study, engineers,
mechanists, contractors, capital, shareholders, or Government aid!

It presents no danger of shipwreck, explosion, fire, or collision!

It may be brought into operation at any time!

Moreover--and this must undoubtedly recommend it to the public--it will
not add a penny to the Budget, but the reverse. It will not increase the
staff of functionaries, but the reverse. It will interfere with no man's
liberty, but the reverse.

It is observation, not chance, which has put me in possession of this
discovery, and I will tell you what suggested it.

I had at the time this question to resolve:

"Why does an article manufactured at Brussels, for example, cost dearer
when it comes to Paris?"

I soon perceived that it proceeds from this: That between Paris and
Brussels _obstacles_ of many kinds exist. First of all, there is
_distance_, which entails loss of time, and we must either submit
to this ourselves, or pay another to submit to it. Then come rivers,
marshes, accidents, bad roads, which are so many _difficulties_ to be
surmounted. We succeed in building bridges, in forming roads, and making
them smoother by pavements, iron rails, etc. But all this is costly, and
the commodity must be made to bear the cost. Then there are robbers who
infest the roads, and a body of police must be kept up, etc.

Now, among these _obstacles_ there is one which we have ourselves set
up, and at no little cost, too, between Brussels and Paris. There are
men who lie in ambuscade along the frontier, armed to the teeth, and
whose business it is to throw _difficulties_ in the way of transporting
merchandise from the one country to the other. They are called
Customhouse officers, and they act in precisely the same way as ruts
and bad roads. They retard, they trammel commerce, they augment the
difference we have remarked between the price paid by the consumer and
the price received by the producer--that very difference, the reduction
of which, as far as possible, forms the subject of our problem.

That problem is resolved in three words: Reduce your tariff.

You will then have done what is equivalent to constructing the Northern
Railway without cost, and will immediately begin to put money in your

In truth, I often seriously ask myself how anything so whimsical could
ever have entered into the human brain, as first of all to lay out many
millions for the purpose of removing the _natural obstacles_ which
lie between France and other countries, and then to lay out many more
millions for the purpose of substituting _artificial obstacles_, which
have exactly the same effect; so much so, indeed, that the obstacle
created and the obstacle removed neutralize each other, and leave
things as they were before, the residue of the operation being a double

A Belgian product is worth at Brussels 20 francs, and the cost of
carriage would raise the price at Paris to 30 francs. The same article
made in Paris costs 40 francs. And how do we proceed?

In the first place, we impose a duty of 10 francs on the Belgian
product, in order to raise its cost price at Paris to 40 francs; and we
pay numerous officials to see the duty stringently levied, so that, on
the road, the commodity is charged 10 francs for the carriage, and 10
francs for the tax.

Having done this, we reason thus: The carriage from Brussels to Paris,
which costs 10 francs, is very dear. Let us expend two or three hundred
millions [of francs] in railways, and we shall reduce it by one half.
Evidently, all that we gain by this is that the Belgian product would
sell in Paris for 35 francs, viz.

     20 francs, its price at Brussels.
     10   " duty.
     5    " reduced carriage by railway.
     Total, 35 francs, representing cost price at Paris.

Now, I ask, would we not have attained the same result by lowering the
tariff by 5 francs? We should then have--

     20 francs, the price at Brussels.
     5    " reduced duty.
     10   " carriage by ordinary roads.
     Total, 35 francs, representing cost price at Paris.

And by this process we should have saved the 200 millions which the
railway cost, plus the expense of Customhouse surveillance, for this
last would be reduced in proportion to the diminished encouragement held
out to smuggling.

But it will be said that the duty is necessary to protect Parisian
industry. Be it so; but then you destroy the effect of your railway.

For, if you persist in desiring that the Belgian product should cost
at Paris 40 francs, you must raise your duty to 15 francs, and then you

     20 francs, the price at Brussels.
     15   " protecting duty.
     5    " railway carriage.
     Total, 40 francs, being the equalized price.

Then, I venture to ask, what, under such circumstances, is the good of
your railway?

In sober earnestness, let me ask, is it not humiliating that the
nineteenth century should make itself a laughing-stock to future ages by
such puerilities, practised with such imperturbable gravity? To be
the dupe of other people is not very pleasant, but to employ a
vast representative apparatus in order to dupe, and double dupe,
ourselves--and that, too, in an affair of arithmetic--should surely
humble the pride of this _age of enlightenment_.


We have just seen that whatever increases the expense of conveying
commodities from one country to another--in other words, whatever
renders transport more onerous--acts in the same way as a protective
duty; or if you prefer to put it in another shape, that a protective
duty acts in the same way as more onerous transport.

A tariff, then, may be regarded in the same light as a marsh, a rut,
an obstruction, a steep declivity--in a word, it is an _obstacle_, the
effect of which is to augment the difference between the price which the
producer of a commodity receives, and the price which the consumer
pays for it. In the same way, it is undoubtedly true that marshes and
quagmires are to be regarded in the same light as protective tariffs.

There are people (few in number, it is true, but there are such people)
who begin to understand that obstacles are not less obstacles because
they are artificial, and that our mercantile prospects have more to gain
from liberty than from protection, and exactly for the same reason which
makes a canal more favourable to traffic than a steep, roundabout, and
inconvenient road.

But they maintain that this liberty must be reciprocal. If we remove
the barriers we have erected against the admission of Spanish goods,
for example, Spain must remove the barriers she has erected against the
admission of ours. They are, therefore, the advocates of _commercial
treaties_, on the basis of exact reciprocity, concession for concession;
let us make the _sacrifice_ of buying, say they, to obtain the advantage
of selling.

People who reason in this way, I am sorry to say, are, whether they know
it or not, protectionists in principle; only, they are a little
more inconsistent than pure protectionists, as the latter are more
inconsistent than absolute prohibitionists.

The following apologue will demonstrate this:--

STULTA AND PUERA. There were, no matter where, two towns called Stulta
and Puera. They completed at great cost a highway from the one town to
the other. When this was done, Stulta said to herself, "See how Puera
inundates us with her products; we must see to it." In consequence,
they created and paid a body of _obstructives_, so called because their
business was to place _obstacles_ in the way of traffic coming from
Puera. Soon afterwards, Puera did the same.

At the end of some centuries, knowledge having in the interim made
great progress, the common sense of Puera enabled her to see that such
reciprocal obstacles could only be reciprocally hurtful. She therefore
sent a diplomatist to Stulta, who, laying aside official phraseology,
spoke to this effect: "We have made a highway, and now we throw
obstacles in the way of using it. This is absurd. It would have been
better to have left things as they were. We should not, in that case,
have had to pay for making the road in the first place, nor afterwards
have incurred the expense of maintaining _obstructives_. In the name of
Puera, I come to propose to you, not to give up opposing each other
all at once--that would be to act upon a principle, and we despise
principles as much as you do--but to lessen somewhat the present
obstacles, taking care to estimate equitably the respective _sacrifices_
we make for this purpose." So spoke the diplomatist. Stulta asked for
time to consider the proposal, and proceeded to consult, in succession,
her manufacturers and agriculturists. At length, after the lapse of some
years, she declared that the negotiations were broken off.

On receiving this intimation, the inhabitants of Puera held a meeting.
An old gentleman (they always suspected he had been secretly bought by
Stulta) rose and said: The obstacles created by Stulta injure our sales,
which is a misfortune. Those which we have ourselves created injure our
purchases, which is another misfortune. With reference to the first, we
are powerless; but the second rests with ourselves. Let us, at least,
get quit of one, since we cannot rid ourselves of both evils. Let us
suppress our _obstructives_ without requiring Stulta to do the same.
Some day, no doubt, she will come to know her own interests better.

A second counsellor, a practical, matter-of-fact man, guiltless of
any acquaintance with principles, and brought up in the ways of his
forefathers, replied: "Don't listen to that Utopian dreamer, that
theorist, that innovator, that economist, that _Stultomaniac_."

We shall all be undone if the stoppages of the road are not equalized,
weighed, and balanced between Stulta and Puera. There would be greater
difficulty in going than in coming, in exporting than in importing. We
should find ourselves in the same condition of inferiority relatively
to Stulta, as Havre, Nantes, Bordeaux, Lisbon, London, Hamburg, and New
Orleans, are with relation to the towns situated at the sources of the
Seine, the Loire, the Garonne, the Tagus, the Thames, the Elbe, and
the Mississippi, for it is more difficult for a ship to ascend than
to descend a river. (_A Voice_: Towns at the _embouchures_ of rivers
prosper more than towns at their source.) This is impossible. (Same
Voice: But it is so.) Well, if it be so, they have prospered _contrary
to rules_. Reasoning so conclusive convinced the assembly, and
the orator followed up his victory by talking largely of national
independence, national honour, national dignity, national labour,
inundation of products, tributes, murderous competition. In short, he
carried the vote in favour of the maintenance of obstacles; and if you
are at all curious on the subject, I can point out to you countries,
where you will see with your own eyes Road-makers and Obstructives
working together on the most friendly terms possible, under the orders
of the same legislative assembly, and at the expense of the same
taxpayers, the one set endeavouring to clear the road, and the other set
doing their utmost to render it impassible.


Do you desire to be in a situation to decide between liberty and
protection? Do you desire to appreciate the bearing of an economic
phenomenon? Inquire into its effects _upon the abundance or scarcity
of commodities_, and not _upon the rise or fall of prices_. Distrust
_nominal prices_;* and they will only land you in an inextricable

     * I have translated the expression des prix absolus, nominal
     prices, or actual money prices, because the English
     economists do not, so far as I remember, make use of the
     term absolute price.--See post, chap. v. of second series,
     where the author employs the expression in this sense.--

M. Matthieu de Dombasle, after having shown that protection raises
prices, adds--

"The enhancement of price increases the expense of living, and
_consequently_ the price of labour, and each man receives, in the
enhanced price of his products, compensation for the higher prices he
has been obliged to pay for the things he has occasion to buy. Thus,
if every one pays more as a consumer, every one receives more as a

It is evident that we could reverse this argument, and say--"If every
one receives more as a producer, every one pays more as a consumer."

Now, what does this prove? Nothing but this, that protection _displaces_
wealth uselessly and unjustly. In so far, it simply perpetrates

Again, to conclude that this vast apparatus leads to simple
compensations, we must stick to the "consequently" of M. de Dombasle,
and make sure that the price of labour will not fail to rise with the
price of the protected products. This is a question of fact which I
remit to M. Moreau de Jonnés, that he may take the trouble to find out
whether the rate of wages advances along with the price of shares in
the coal-mines of Anzin. For my own part, I do not believe that it
does; because, in my opinion, the price of labour, like the price of
everything else, is governed by the relation of supply to demand. Now,
I am convinced that _restriction_ diminishes the supply of coal, and
consequently enhances its price; but I do not see so clearly that it
increases the demand for labour, so as to enhance the rate of wages; and
that this effect should be produced is all the less likely, because
the quantity of labour demanded depends on the disposable capital. Now,
protection may indeed displace capital, and cause its transference from
one employment to another, but it can never increase it by a single

But this question, which is one of the greatest interest and importance,
will be examined in another place.* I return to the subject of _nominal
price_; and I maintain that it is not one of those absurdities which can
be rendered specious by such reasonings as those of M. de Dombasle.

Put the case of a nation which is isolated, and possesses a given amount
of specie, and which chooses to amuse itself by burning each year one
half of all the commodities that it possesses. I undertake to prove
that, according to the theory of M. de Dombasle, it will not be less

In fact, in consequence of the fire, all things will be doubled in
price, and the inventories of property, made before and after the
destruction, will show exactly the same _nominal_ value. But then what
will the country in question have lost? If John buys his cloth dearer,
he also sells his corn at a higher price; and if Peter loses on his
purchase of corn, he retrieves his losses by the sale of his cloth.
"Each recovers, in the extra price of his products, the extra expense
of living he has been put to; and if everybody pays as a consumer,
everybody receives a corresponding amount as a producer."

All this is a jingling quibble, and not science. The truth, in plain
terms, is this: that men consume cloth and corn by fire or by using
them, and that the effect is the same _as regards price_, but not _as
regards wealth_, for it is precisely in the use of commodities that
wealth or material prosperity consists.

In the same way, restriction, while diminishing the abundance of things,
may raise their price to such an extent that each party shall be,
_pecuniarily speaking_, as rich as before. But to set down in an
inventory three measures of corn at 20s., or four measures at 15s.,
because the result is still sixty shillings,--would this, I ask, come
to the same thing with reference to the satisfaction of men's wants?

It is to this, the consumer's point of view, that I shall never cease
to recall the protectionists, for this is the end and design of all our
efforts, and the solution of all problems.**

     * See _post_, ch. v., second series.--Translator.

     ** To this view of the subject the author frequently
     reverts. It was, in his eyes, all important; and, four days
     before his death, he dictated this recommendation:--"Tell M.
     de F. to treat economical questions always from the
     consumer's point of view, for the interest of the consumer
     is identical with that of the human race."--Editor.

I shall never cease to say to them: Is it, or is it not, true that
restriction, by impeding exchanges, by limiting the division of labour,
by forcing labour to connect itself with difficulties of climate and
situation, diminishes ultimately the quantity of commodities produced by
a determinate amount of efforts? And what does this signify, it will be
said, if the smaller quantity produced under the _régime_ of protection
has the same _nominal value_ as that produced under the _régime_ of
liberty? The answer is obvious. Man does not live upon nominal values,
but upon real products, and the more products there are, whatever be
their price, the richer he is.

In writing what precedes, I never expected to meet with an
anti-economist who was enough of a logician to admit, in so many words,
that the wealth of nations depends on the value of things, apart from
the consideration of their abundance. But here is what I find in the
work of M. de Saint-Chamans (p. 210):--

"If fifteen millions' worth of commodities, sold to foreigners, are
taken from the total production, estimated at fifty millions, the
thirty-five millions' worth of commodities remaining, not being
sufficient to meet the ordinary demand, will increase in price, and rise
to the value of fifty millions. In that case the revenue of the country
will represent a value of fifteen millions additional.... There would
then be an increase of the wealth of the country to the extent of
fifteen millions, exactly the amount of specie imported."

This is a pleasant view of the matter! If a nation produces in one year,
from its agriculture and commerce, a value of fifty millions, it has
only to sell a quarter of it to the foreigner to be a quarter richer!
Then if it sells the half, it will be one-half richer! And if it should
sell the whole, to its last tuft of wool and its last grain of wheat,
it would bring up its revenue to 100 millions. Singular way of getting
rich, by producing infinite dearness by absolute scarcity!

Again, would you judge of the two doctrines? Submit them to the test of

According to the doctrine of M. de Saint-Chamans, the French would
be quite as rich--that is to say, quite as well supplied with all
things--had they only a thousandth part of their annual products,
because they would be worth a thousand times more.

According to our doctrine, the French would be infinitely rich if their
annual products were infinitely abundant, and, consequently, without any
value at all.*

     *  See _post_, ch. v. of second series of _Sophismes_; and
     ch. vi. of _Harmonies Economiques_.


An atheist, declaiming one day against religion and priestcraft, became
so outrageous in his abuse, that one of his audience, who was not
himself very orthodox, exclaimed, "If you go on much longer in this
strain, you will make me a convert."

In the same way, when we see our beardless scribblers, our
novel-writers, reformers, fops, amateur contributors to newspapers,
redolent of musk, and saturated with champagne, stuffing their
portfolios with radical prints, or issuing under gilded covers their own
tirades against the egotism and individualism of the age--when we hear
such people declaim against the rigour of our institutions, groan over
the proletariat and the wages system, raise their eyes to Heaven, and
weep over the poverty of the working classes (poverty which they never
see but when they are paid to paint it),--we are likewise tempted to
exclaim, "If you go on longer in this strain, we shall lose all interest
in the working classes."

Affectation is the besetting sin of our times. When a serious writer,
in a spirit of philanthropy, refers to the sufferings of the working
classes, his words are caught up by these sentimentalists, twisted,
distorted, and exaggerated, _usque ad 'nauseam_. The grand, the only
remedy, it would seem, lies in the high-sounding phrases, association
and organization. The working classes are flattered--fulsomely,
servilely flattered; they are represented as in the condition of slaves,
and men of common sense will soon be ashamed publicly to espouse their
cause, for how can common sense make itself heard in the midst of all
this insipid and empty declamation?

Far from us be this cowardly indifference, which would not be justified
even by the sentimental affectation which prompts it.

Workmen! your situation is peculiar! They make merchandise of you, as I
shall show you immediately.... But no; I withdraw that expression.
Let us steer clear of strong language, which may be misapplied; for
spoliation, wrapt up in the sophistry which conceals it, may be in full
operation unknown to the spoliator, and with the blind assent of his
victim. Still, you are deprived of the just remuneration of your labour,
and no one is concerned to do you _justice_. If all that was wanted to
console you were ardent appeals to philanthropy, to impotent charity,
to degrading almsgiving; or if the grand words, organization, communism,
_phalanstère,_* were enough for you, truly they would not be spared. But
_justice_, simple justice, no one thinks of offering you. And yet, would
it not be _just_ that when, after a long day's toil, you have received
your modest wages, you should have it in your power to exchange them
for the greatest amount of satisfactions and enjoyments which you could
possibly obtain for them from any one in any part of the world?

     * Allusion to a socialist work of the day.--Translator.

Some day I may have occasion also to talk to you of association and
organization, and we shall then see what you have to expect from those
chimeras which now mislead you.

In the meantime, let us inquire whether _injustice_ is not done you by
fixing legislatively the people from whom you are to purchase the things
you have need of--bread, meat, linens, or cloth; and in dictating, if
I may say so, the artificial scale of prices which you are to adopt in
your dealings.

Is it true that protection, which admittedly makes you pay dearer
for everything, and entails a loss upon you in this respect, raises
proportionally your wages?

On what does the rate of wages depend?

One of your own class has put it forcibly, thus: When two workmen run
after one master, wages fall; they rise when two masters run after one

For the sake of brevity, allow me to make use of this formula, more
scientific, although, perhaps, not quite so clear. The rate of wages
depends on the proportion which the supply of labour bears to the demand
for it.

Now, on what does the _supply_ of labour depend?

On the number of men waiting for employment; and on this first element
protection can have no effect.

On what does the _demand_ for labour depend?

On the disposable capital of the nation. But does the law which says,
We shall no longer receive such or such a product from abroad, we shall
make it at home, augment the capital? Not in the least degree. It may
force capital from one employment to another, but it does not increase
it by a single farthing. It does not then increase the demand for

We point with pride to a certain manufacture. Is it established or
maintained with capital which has fallen from the moon? No; that capital
has been withdrawn from agriculture, from shipping, from the production
of wines. And this is the reason why, under the _régime_ of protective
tariffs, there are more workmen in our mines and in our manufacturing
towns, and fewer sailors in our ports, and fewer labourers in our fields
and vineyards.

I could expatiate at length on this subject, but I prefer to explain
what I mean by an example.

A countryman was possessed of twenty acres of land, which he worked with
a capital of £400. He divided his land into four parts, and established
the following rotation of crops:--1st, maize; 2d, wheat; 3d, clover;
4th, rye. He required for his own family only a moderate portion of the
grain, meat, and milk which his farm produced, and he sold the surplus
to buy oil, flax, wine, etc. His whole capital was expended each year
in wages, hires, and small payments to the working classes in his
neighbourhood. This capital was returned to him in his sales, and even
went on increasing year by year; and our countryman, knowing very well
that capital produces nothing when it is unemployed, benefited the
working classes by devoting the annual surplus to enclosing and
clearing his land, and to improving his agricultural implements and farm
buildings. He had even some savings in the neighbouring town with his
banker, who, of course, did not let the money lie idle in his till, but
lent it to shipowners and contractors for public works, so that these
savings were always resolving themselves into wages.

At length the countryman died, and his son, who succeeded him, said to
himself, "My father was a dupe all his life. He purchased oil, and so
paid _tribute_ to Provence, whilst our own land, with some pains, can
be made to grow the olive. He bought cloth, wine, and oranges, and thus
paid tribute to Brittany, Medoc, and Hyères, whilst we can cultivate
hemp, the vine, and the orange tree with more or less success. He paid
_tribute_ to the miller and the weaver, whilst our own domestics can
weave our linen and grind our wheat." In this way he ruined himself, and
spent among strangers that money which he might have spent at home.

Misled by such reasoning, the volatile youth changed his rotation of
crops. His land he divided into twenty divisions. In one he planted
olives, in another mulberry trees, in a third he sowed flax, in a fourth
he had vines, in a fifth wheat, and so on. By this means he succeeded
in supplying his family with what they required, and felt himself
independent. He no longer drew anything from the general circulation,
nor did he add anything to it. Was he the richer for this? No; for the
soil was not adapted for the cultivation of the vine, and the climate
was not fitted for the successful cultivation of the olive; and he was
not long in finding out that his family was less plentifully provided
with all the things which they wanted than in the time of his father,
who procured them by exchanging his surplus produce.

As regarded his workmen, they had no more employment than formerly.
There were five times more fields, but each field was five times
smaller; they produced oil, but they produced less wheat; he no longer
purchased linens, but he no longer sold rye. Moreover, the farmer could
expend in wages only the amount of his capital, and his capital went on
constantly diminishing. A great part of it went for buildings, and the
various implements needed for the more varied cultivation in which he
had engaged. In short, the supply of labour remained the same, but as
the means of remunerating that labour fell off, the ultimate result was
a forcible reduction of wages.

On a greater scale, this is exactly what takes place in the case of
a nation which isolates itself by adopting a prohibitive _régime_.
It multiplies its branches of industry, I grant, but they become of
diminished importance; it adopts, so to speak, a more complicated
_industrial rotation_, but it is not so prolific, because its capital
and labour have now to struggle with natural difficulties. A greater
proportion of its circulating capital, which forms the wages fund,
must be converted into fixed capital. What remains may have more varied
employment, but the total mass is not increased. It is like distributing
the water of a pond among a multitude of shallow reservoirs--it covers
more ground, and presents a greater surface to the rays of the sun,
and it is precisely for this reason that it is all the sooner absorbed,
evaporated, and lost.

The amount of capital and labour being given, they create a smaller
amount of commodities in proportion as they encounter more obstacles. It
is beyond doubt, that when international obstructions force capital
and labour into channels and localities where they meet with greater
difficulties of soil and climate, the general result must be, fewer
products created--that is to say, fewer enjoyments for consumers. Now,
when there are fewer enjoyments upon the whole, will the workman's share
of them be augmented? If it were augmented, as is asserted, then the
rich--the men who make the laws--would find their own share not only
subject to the general diminution, but that diminished share would be
still further reduced by what was added to the labourers' share. Is
this possible? Is it credible? I advise you, workmen, to reject such
suspicious generosity.*

     * See _Harmonies Économiques_, ch. xiv.


As advocates of free trade, we are accused of being theorists, and of
not taking practice sufficiently into account.

"What fearful prejudices were entertained against M. Say," says M.
Ferrier,* "by that long train of distinguished administrators, and that
imposing phalanx of authors who dissented from his opinions; and M.
Say was not unaware of it. Hear what he says:--'It has been alleged
in support of errors of long standing, that there must have been some
foundation for ideas which have been adopted by all nations. Ought
we not to distrust observations and reasonings which run counter to
opinions which have been constantly entertained down to our own time,
and which have been regarded as sound by so many men remarkable for
their enlightenment and their good intentions? This argument, I allow,
is calculated to make a profound impression, and it might have cast
doubt upon points which we deem the most incontestable, if we had not
seen, by turns, opinions the most false, and now generally acknowledged
to be false, received and professed by everybody during a long series
of ages. Not very long ago all nations, from the rudest to the most
enlightened, and all men, from the street-porter to the _savant_,
admitted the existence of four elements. No one thought of contesting
that doctrine, which, however, is false; so much so, that even the
greenest assistant in a naturalist's class-room would be ashamed to say
that he regarded earth, water, and fire as elements.'"

     * De l'Administration Commerciale opposée à Oeconomie
     Politique, p. 5.

On this M. Ferrier remarks:--

"If M. Say thinks to answer thus the very strong objection which he
brings forward, he is singularly mistaken. That men, otherwise well
informed, should have been mistaken for centuries on certain points of
natural history is easily understood, and proves nothing. Water, air,
earth, and fire, whether elements or not, are not the less useful to
man.... Such errors are unimportant: they lead to no popular commotions,
no uneasiness in the public mind; they run counter to no pecuniary
interest; and this is the reason why without any felt inconvenience they
may endure for a thousand years. The physical world goes on as if they
did not exist. But of errors in the moral world, can the same thing
be said? Can we conceive that a system of administration, found to be
absolutely false and therefore hurtful, should be followed out
among many nations for centuries, with the general approval of all
well-informed men? Can it be explained how such a system could coexist
with the constantly increasing prosperity of nations? M. Say admits that
the argument which he combats is fitted to make a profound impression.
Yes, indeed; and the impression remains; for M. Say has rather deepened
than done away with it."

     * Might we not say, that it is a "fearful prejudice" against
     MM. Ferrier and Saint-Chamans, that "_economists of all
     schools_, that is to say, everybody who has studied the
     question, should have arrived at the conclusion, that, after
     all, liberty is better than constraint, and the laws of God
     wiser than those of Colbert."

Let us hear what M. de Saint-Chamans says on the same subject:--

"It was only in the middle of the last century, of that eighteenth
century which handed over all subjects and all principles without
exception to free discussion, that these _spéculative_ purveyors of
ideas, applied by them to all things without being really applicable
to anything, began to write upon political economy. There existed
previously a system of political economy, not to be found in books, but
which had been put in _practical_ operation by governments. Colbert, it
is said, was the inventor of it, and it was adopted as a rule by all the
nations of Europe. The singular thing is, that in spite of contempt and
maledictions, in spite of all the discoveries of the modern school, it
still remains in practical operation. This system, which our authors
have called the _mercantile system_, was designed to.... impede, by
prohibitions or import duties, the entry of foreign products, which
might ruin our own manufactures by their competition. Economic writers
of all schools* have declared this system untenable, absurd, and
calculated to impoverish any country. It has been banished from all
their books, and forced to take refuge in the _practical_ legislation of
all nations. They cannot conceive why, in measures relating to national
wealth, governments should not follow the advice and opinions of learned
authors, rather than trust to their _experience_ of the tried working
of a system which has been long in operation. Above all, they cannot
conceive why the French government should in economic questions
obstinately set itself to resist the progress of enlightenment, and
maintain in its _practice_ those ancient errors, which all our economic
writers have exposed. But enough of this mercantile system, which
has nothing in its favour but _facts_, and is not defended by any
speculative writer."*

     * Du Système de l'Impot, par M. le Vicomte de Saint-Chamans,
     p. 11.

Such language as this would lead one to suppose that in demanding
for every one _the free disposal of his property_, economists were
propounding some new system, some new, strange, and chimerical social
order, a sort of _phalanstère_, coined in the mint of their own brain,
and without precedent in the annals of the human race. To me it would
seem that if we have here anything factitious or contingent, it is to
be found, not in liberty, but in protection; not in the free power of
exchanging, but in customs duties employed to overturn artificially the
natural course of remuneration.

But our business at present is not to compare, or pronounce between, the
two systems; but to inquire which of the two is founded on experience.

The advocates of monopoly maintain that _the facts_ are on their side,
and that we have on our side only _theory_.

They flatter themselves that this long series of public acts, this
_old experience_ of Europe, which they invoke, has presented itself as
something very formidable to the mind of M. Say; and I grant that he
has not refuted it with his wonted sagacity. For my own part, I am not
disposed to concede to the monopolists the domain of _facts_, for they
have only in their favour facts which are forced and exceptional; and we
oppose to these, facts which are universal, the free and voluntary acts
of mankind at large.

What do we say; and what do they say?

We say,

"You should buy from others what you cannot make for yourself but at a
greater expense."

And they say,

"It is better to make things for yourself, although they cost you more
than, the price at which you could buy them from others."

Now, gentlemen, throwing aside theory, argument, demonstration, all
which seems to affect you with nausea, which of these two assertions has
on its side the sanction of _universal practice?_

Visit your fields, your workshops, your forges, your warehouses; look
above, below, and around you; look at what takes place in your own
houses; remark your own everyday acts; and say what is the principle
which guides these labourers, artisans, and merchants; say what is your
own personal _practice_.

Does the farmer make his own clothes? Does the tailor produce the corn
he consumes? Does your housekeeper continue to have your bread made
at home, after she finds she can buy it cheaper from the baker? Do
you resign the pen for the brush, to save your paying _tribute_ to
the shoeblack? Does the entire economy of society not rest upon the
separation of employments, the division of labour--in a word, upon
_exchange?_ And what is exchange, but a calculation which we make with
a view to discontinuing direct production in every case in which we find
that possible, and in which indirect acquisition enables us to effect a
saving in time and in effort?

It is not you, therefore, who are the men of _practice_, since you
cannot point to a single human being who acts upon your principle.

But you will say, we never intended to make our principle a rule for
individual relations. We perfectly understand that this would be to
break up the bond of society, and would force men to live like snails,
each in his own shell. All that we contend for is, that our principle
regulates _de facto_, the regulations which obtain between the different
agglomerations of the human family.

Well, I affirm that this principle is still erroneous. The family,
the commune, the canton, the department, the province, are so many
agglomerations, which all, without any exception, reject _practically_
your principle, and have never dreamt of acting on it. All procure
themselves, by means of exchange, those things which it would cost them
dearer to procure by means of production. And nations would do the same,
did you not hinder them _by force_.

We, then, are the men of practice and of experience; for we oppose
to the restriction which you have placed exceptionally on certain
international exchanges, the practice and experience of all individuals,
and of all agglomerations of individuals, whose acts are voluntary, and
can consequently be adduced as evidence. But you begin by _constraining,
by hindering_, and then you lay hold of acts which are _forced or
prohibited_, as warranting you to exclaim, "We have practice and
experience on our side!"

You inveigh against our theory, and even against theories in general.
But when you lay down a principle in opposition to ours, you perhaps
imagine you are not proceeding on theory? Clear your heads of that idea.
You in fact form a theory, as we do; but between your theory and ours
there is this difference:

Our theory consists merely in observing universal _facts_, universal
opinions; calculations and ways of proceeding which universally prevail;
and in classifying these, and rendering them Co-ordinate, with a view to
their being more easily understood.

Our theory is so little opposed to practice that it is nothing else but
_practice explained_. We observe men acting as they are moved by the
instinct of self-preservation and a desire for progress, and what
they thus do freely and voluntarily we denominate political or social
economy. We can never help repeating, that each individual man is
_practically_ an excellent economist, producing or exchanging according
as he finds it more to his interest to produce or to exchange. Each,
by experience, educates himself in this science; or rather the science
itself is only this same experience accurately observed and methodically

But on your side, you construct a _theory_ in the worst sense of the
word. You imagine, you invent, a course of proceeding which is not
sanctioned by the practice of any living man under the canopy of heaven;
and then you invoke the aid of constraint and prohibition. It is quite
necessary that you should have recourse to _force_, for you desire that
men should be made to produce those things which they find it _more
advantageous_ to buy; you desire that they should renounce this
_advantage_, and act upon a doctrine which implies a contradiction in

The doctrine which you acknowledge would be absurd in the relations
of individuals; I defy you to extend it, even in speculation, to
transaction between families, communities, or provinces. By your own
admission, it is only applicable to international relations.

This is the reason why you are forced to keep repeating:

"There are no absolute principles, no inflexible rules. What is _good_
for an individual, a family, a province, is _bad_ for a nation. What
is _good_ in detail--namely, to purchase rather than produce, when
purchasing is more advantageous than producing--that same is _bad_ in
the gross. The political economy of individuals is not that of nations;"
and other nonsense _ejusdèm farino_.

And to what does all this tend? Look at it a little closer. The
intention is to prove that we, the consumers, are your property! that
we are yours body and soul! that you have an exclusive right over our
stomachs and our limbs! that it belongs to you to feed and clothe us on
your own terms, whatever be your ignorance, incapacity, or rapacity!

No, you are not men of practice; you are men of abstraction--and of


There is one thing which confounds me; and it is this: Sincere
publicists, studying the economy of society from the producer's point of
view, have laid down this double formula:--

"Governments should order the interests of consumers who are subject to
their laws, in such a way as to be favourable to national industry.

"They should bring distant consumers under subjection to their laws, for
the purpose of ordering their interests in a way favourable to national

The first of these formulas gets the name of protection; the second we
call _débouchés_, or the creating of markets, or vents, for our produce.

Both are founded on the _datum_ which we denominate the _Balance of

"A nation is impoverished when it imports; enriched when it exports."

For if every purchase from a foreign country is a _tribute paid_ and a
national loss, it follows, of course, that it is right to restrain, and
even prohibit, importations.

And if every sale to a foreign country is a _tribute received_, and a
national profit, it is quite right and natural to create markets for our
products even by force.

The _system of protection_ and the _colonial system_ are, then, only two
aspects of one and the same theory. To _hinder_ our fellow-citizens
from buying from foreigners, and to _force_ foreigners to buy from
our fellow-citizens, are only two consequences of one and the same

Now, it is impossible not to admit that this doctrine, if true, makes
general utility to repose on _monopoly_ or internal spoliation, and on
_conquest_ or external spoliation.

I enter a cottage on the French side of the Pyrenees.

The father of the family has received but slender wages. His half-naked
children shiver in the icy north wind; the fire is extinguished, and
there is nothing on the table. There are wool, firewood, and corn on the
other side of the mountain; but these good things are forbidden to the
poor day-labourer, for the other side of the mountain is not in France.
Foreign firewood is not allowed to warm the cottage hearth; and the
shepherd's children can never know the taste of Biscayan corn,* and the
wool of Navarre can never warm their benumbed limbs. General utility
has so ordered it. Be it so; but let us agree that all this is in direct
opposition to the first principles of justice. To dispose legislatively
of the interests of consumers, and postpone them to the supposed
interests of national industry, is to encroach upon their liberty--it is
to prohibit an act; namely, the act of exchange, which has in it
nothing contrary to good morals; in a word, it is to do them an act of

     * The French word employed is _méture_, probably a Spanish
     word Gallicized--_mestûra_, meslin, mixed corn, as wheat and

And yet this is necessary, we are told, unless we wish to see national
labour at a standstill, and public prosperity sustain a fatal shock.

Writers of the protectionist school, then, have arrived at the
melancholy conclusion that there is a radical incompatibility between
Justice and Utility.

On the other hand, if it be the interest of each nation to _sell_, and
not to _buy_, the natural state of their relations must consist in a
violent action and reaction, for each will seek to impose its products
on all, and all will endeavour to repel the products of each.

A sale, in fact, implies a purchase, and since, according to this
doctrine, to sell is beneficial, and to buy is the reverse, every
international transaction would imply the amelioration of one people,
and the deterioration of another.

But if men are, on the one hand, irresistibly impelled towards what is
for their profit, and if, on the other, they resist instinctively what
is hurtful, we are forced to conclude that each nation carries in its
bosom a natural force of expansion, and a not less natural force of
resistance, which forces are equally injurious to all other nations; or,
in other words, that antagonism and war are the _natural_ state of human

Thus the theory we are discussing may be summed up in these two axioms:

Utility is incompatible with Justice at home.

Utility is incompatible with Peace abroad.

Now, what astonishes and confounds me is, that a publicist, a statesman,
who sincerely holds an economical doctrine which runs so violently
counter to other principles which are incontestable, should be able to
enjoy one moment of calm or peace of mind.

For my own part, it seems to me, that if I had entered the precincts of
the science by the same gate, if I had failed to perceive clearly that
Liberty, Utility, Justice, Peace, are things not only compatible, but
strictly allied with each other, and, so to speak, identical, I should
have endeavoured to forget what I had learned, and I should have asked:

"How God could have willed that men should attain prosperity only
through Injustice and War? How He could have willed that they should be
unable to avoid Injustice and War except by renouncing the possibility
of attaining prosperity?

"Dare I adopt, as the basis of the legislation of a great nation, a
science which thus misleads me by false lights, which has conducted me
to this horrible blasphemy, and landed me in so dreadful an alternative?
And when a long train of illustrious philosophers have been conducted by
this science, to which they have devoted their lives, to more consoling
results--when they affirm that Liberty and Utility are perfectly
reconcilable with Justice and Peace--that all these great principles
run in infinitely extended parallels, and will do so to all eternity,
without running counter to each other,--I would ask, Have they not in
their favour that presumption which results from all that we know of the
goodness and wisdom of God, as manifested in the sublime harmony of the
material creation? In the face of such a presumption, and of so many
reliable authorities, ought I to believe lightly that God has been
pleased to implant antagonism and dissonance in the laws of the moral
world? No; before I should venture to conclude that the principles
of social order run counter to and neutralize each other, and are in
eternal and irreconcilable opposition--before I should venture to impose
on my fellow-citizens a system so impious as that to which my reasonings
would appear to lead,--I should set myself to reexamine the whole chain
of these reasonings, and assure myself that at this stage of the
journey I had not missed my way." But if, after a candid and searching
examination, twenty times repeated, I arrived always at this frightful
conclusion, that we must choose between the Bight and the Good,
discouraged, I should reject the science, and bury myself in voluntary
ignorance; above all, I should decline all participation in public
affairs, leaving to men of another temper and constitution the burden
and responsibility of a choice so painful.


M. de Saint-Cricq inquires, "Whether it is certain that the foreigner
will buy from us as much as he sells?"

M. de Dombasle asks, "What reason we have to believe that English
producers will take from us, rather than from some other country of the
world, the commodities they have need of, and an amount of commodities
equivalent in value to that of their exports to France?"

I wonder how so many men who call themselves _practical_ men should have
all reasoned without reference to practice!

In practice, does a single exchange take place, out of a hundred, out
of a thousand, out of ten thousand perhaps, which represents the direct
barter of commodity for commodity? Never since the introduction of money
has any agriculturist said: I want to buy shoes, hats, advice, lessons;
but only from the shoemaker, the hat-maker, the lawyer, the professor,
who will purchase from me corn to an exactly equivalent value. And why
should nations bring each other under a yoke of this kind? Practically
how are such matters transacted?

Let us suppose a people shut out from external relations. A man, we
shall suppose, produces wheat. He sends it to the _home_ market,
and offers it for the highest price he can obtain. He receives in
exchange--what? Coins, which are just so many drafts or orders, varying
very much in amount, by means of which he can draw, in his turn, from
the national stores, when he judges it proper, and subject to due
competition, everything which he may want or desire. Ultimately, and
at the end of the operation, he will have drawn from the mass the
exact equivalent of what he has contributed to it, and, in value, _his
consumption will exactly equal his production_.

If the exchanges of the supposed nation with foreigners are left free,
it is no longer to the _national_, but to the _general_, market that
each sends his contributions, and, in turn, derives his supplies for
consumption. He has no need to care whether what he sends into the
market of the world is purchased by a fellow-countryman or by a
foreigner; whether the drafts or orders he receives come from a
Frenchman or an Englishman; whether the commodities for which he
afterwards exchanges these drafts or orders are produced on this or on
the other side of the Rhine or the Pyrenees. There is always in each
individual case an exact balance between what is contributed and what is
received, between what is poured into and what is drawn out of the great
common reservoir; and if this is true of each individual, it is true of
the nation at large.

The only difference between the two cases is, that in the last each has
to face a more extended market both as regards sales and purchases, and
has consequently more chances of transacting both advantageously.

This objection may perhaps be urged: If everybody enters into a
league not to take from the general mass the commodities of a certain
individual, that individual cannot, in his turn, obtain from the mass
what he is in want of. It is the same of nations.

The reply to this is, that if a nation cannot obtain what it has need
of in the general market, it will no longer contribute anything to
that market. It will work for itself. It will be forced in that case to
submit to what you want to impose on it beforehand--_isolation_.

And this will realize the ideal of the prohibitive _régime_.

Is it not amusing to think that you inflict upon the nation, now and
beforehand, this very _régime_, from a fear that it might otherwise run
the risk of arriving at it independently of your exertions?


Some years ago I happened to be at Madrid, and went to the Cortes. The
subject of debate was a proposed treaty with Portugal for improving
the navigation of the Douro. One of the deputies rose and said: "If the
navigation of the Douro is improved in the way now proposed, the traffic
will be carried on at less expense. The grain of Portugal will, in
consequence, be sold in the markets of Castile at a lower price, and
will become a formidable rival to our _national industry_. I oppose
the project, unless, indeed, our ministers will undertake to raise
the tariff of customs to the extent required to re-establish the
equilibrium." The Assembly found the argument unanswerable.

Three months afterwards I was at Lisbon. The same question was discussed
in the Senate. A noble hidalgo made a speech: "Mr President," he said,
"this project is absurd. You place guards, at great expense, along the
banks of the Douro to prevent Portugal being invaded by Castilian grain;
and at the same time you propose, also at great expense, to facilitate
that invasion. This is a piece of inconsistency to which I cannot
assent. Let us leave the Douro to our children, as it has come to us
from our fathers."

Afterwards, when the subject of improving the navigation of the Garonne
was discussed, I remembered the arguments of the Iberian orators, and I
said to myself, If the Toulouse deputies were as good economists as the
Spanish deputies, and the representatives of Bordeaux as acute logicians
as those of Oporto, assuredly they would leave the Garonne

"Dormir au bruit flatteur de son onde naissante;"

for the canalisation of the Garonne would favour the invasion of
Toulouse products, to the prejudice of Bordeaux, and the inundation of
Bordeaux products would do the same thing to the detriment of Toulouse.


I have said that when, unfortunately, one has regard to the interest of
the producer, and not to that of the consumer, it is impossible to
avoid running counter to the general interest, because the demand of the
producer, as such, is only for efforts, wants, and obstacles.

I find a remarkable illustration of this in a Bordeaux newspaper.

M. Simiot proposes this question:--

Should the proposed railway from Paris to Madrid offer a solution of
continuity at Bordeaux?

He answers the question in the affirmative, and gives a multiplicity of
reasons, which I shall not stop to examine, except this one:

The railway from Paris to Bayonne should have a break at Bordeaux, for
if goods and passengers are forced to stop at that town, profits will
accrue to bargemen, pedlars, commissionaires, hotel-keepers, etc.

Here we have clearly the interest of labour put before the interest of

But if Bordeaux has a right to profit by a gap in the line of railway,
and if such profit is consistent with the public interest, then
Angoulème, Poitiers, Tours, Orleans, nay, more, all the intermediate
places, Ruffec, Châtellerault, etc., should also demand gaps, as being
for the general interest, and, of course, for the interest of national
industry; for the more these breaks in the line are multiplied,
the greater will be the increase of consignments, commissions,
transhipments, etc., along the whole extent of the railway. In this
way, we shall succeed in having a line of railway composed of successive
gaps, and which may be denominated a _Negative Railway_.

Let the protectionists say what they will, it is not the less certain
that _the principle of restriction_ is the very same as the _principle
of gaps_; the sacrifice of the consumer's interest to that of the
producer,--in other words, the sacrifice of the end to the means.


We cannot wonder enough at the facility with which men resign themselves
to continue ignorant of what it is most important that they should know;
and we may be certain that such ignorance is incorrigible in those who
venture to proclaim this axiom: There are no absolute principles.

You enter the legislative precincts. The subject of debate is whether
the law should prohibit international exchanges, or proclaim freedom.

A deputy rises, and says:

If you tolerate these exchanges, the foreigner will inundate you with
his products: England with her textile fabrics, Belgium with coals,
Spain with wools, Italy with silks, Switzerland with cattle, Sweden
with iron, Prussia with corn; so that home industry will no longer be

Another replies:

If you prohibit international exchanges, the various bounties which
nature has lavished on different climates will be for you as if they
did not exist. You cannot participate in the mechanical skill of the
English, in the wealth of the Belgian mines, in the fertility of the
Polish soil, in the luxuriance of the Swiss pastures, in the cheapness
of Spanish labour, in the warmth of the Italian climate; and you must
obtain from a refractory and misdirected production those commodities
which, through exchange, would have been furnished to you by an easy

Assuredly, one of these deputies must be wrong. But which? We must take
care to make no mistake on the subject; for this is not a matter of
abstract opinion merely. You have to choose between two roads, and one
of them leads necessarily to _poverty_.

To get rid of the dilemma, we are told that there are no absolute

This axiom, which is so much in fashion nowadays, not only countenances
indolence, but ministers to ambition.

If the theory of prohibition comes to prevail, or if the doctrine of
free trade comes to triumph, one brief enactment will constitute our
whole economic code. In the first case, the law will proclaim that _all
exchanges with foreign countries are prohibited_; in the second, that
_all exchanges with foreign countries are free_; and many grand and
distinguished personages will thereby lose their importance.

But if exchange does not possess a character which is peculiar to
it,--if it is not governed by any natural law,--if, capriciously, it
be sometimes useful and sometimes detrimental,--if it does not find its
motive force in the good which it accomplishes, its limit in the good
which it ceases to accomplish,--if its consequences cannot be estimated
by those who effect exchanges;--in a word, if there be no absolute
principles, then we must proceed to weigh, balance, and regulate
transactions, we must equalize the conditions of labour, and try to find
out the average rate of profits--a colossal task, well deserving the
large emoluments and powerful influence awarded to those who undertake

On entering Paris, which I had come to visit, I said to myself, Here
are a million of human beings, who would all die in a short time if
provisions of every kind ceased to flow towards this great metropolis.
Imagination is baffled when it tries to appreciate the vast multiplicity
of commodities which must enter to-morrow through the barriers in order
to preserve the inhabitants from falling a prey to the convulsions of
famine, rebellion, and pillage. And yet all sleep at this moment, and
their peaceful slumbers are not disturbed for a single instant by the
prospect of such a frightful catastrophe. On the other hand, eighty
departments have been labouring to-day, without concert, without any
mutual understanding, for the provisioning of Paris. How does each
succeeding day bring what is wanted, nothing more, nothing less, to so
gigantic a market? What, then, is the ingenious and secret power which
governs the astonishing regularity of movements so complicated, a
regularity in which everybody has implicit faith, although happiness
and life itself are at stake? That power is an _absolute principle_, the
principle of freedom in transactions. We have faith in that inward light
which Providence has placed in the heart of all men, and to which He has
confided the preservation and indefinite amelioration of our species,
namely, a regard to personal _interest_--since we must give it its right
name--a principle so active, so vigilant, so foreseeing, when it is free
in its action. In what situation, I would ask, would the inhabitants of
Paris be, if a minister should take it into his head to substitute for
this power the combinations of his own genius, however superior we might
suppose them to be--if he thought to subject to his supreme direction
this prodigious mechanism, to hold the springs of it in his hands, to
decide by whom, or in what manner, or on what conditions, everything
needed should be produced, transported, exchanged, and consumed? Truly,
there may be much suffering within the walls of Paris--poverty, despair,
perhaps starvation, causing more tears to flow than ardent charity
is able to dry up; but I affirm that it is probable, nay, that it is
certain, that the arbitrary intervention of government would multiply
infinitely those sufferings, and spread over all our fellow-citizens
those evils which at present affect only a small number of them.

This faith, then, which we repose in a principle, when the question
relates only to our home transactions, why should we not retain, when
the same principle is applied to our international transactions, which
are undoubtedly less numerous, less delicate, and less complicated?
And if it is not necessary that the _préfecture_ should regulate our
Parisian industries, weigh our chances, balance our profits and losses,
see that our circulating medium is not exhausted, and equalize the
conditions of our home labour, why should it be necessary that the
Customhouse, departing from its fiscal duties, should pretend to
exercise a protective action over our external commerce?


Among the arguments which we hear adduced in favour of the restrictive
_régime_, we must not forget that which is founded on _national

"What should we do in case of war," it is said, "if we are placed at the
mercy of England for iron and coal?"

English monopolists do not fail to cry out in their turn:

"What would become of Great Britain, in case of war, if she is dependent
on France for provisions?"

One thing is overlooked, which is this--that the kind of dependence
which results from exchange, from commercial transactions, is a
_reciprocal dependence_. We cannot be dependent on the foreigner without
the foreigner being dependent on us. Now, this is the very essence of
society. To break up natural relations is not to place ourselves in a
state of independence, but in a state of isolation.

Remark this: A nation isolates itself looking forward to the possibility
of war; but is not this very act of isolating itself the beginning of
war? It renders war more easy, less burdensome, and, it may be, less
unpopular. Let countries be permanent markets for each other's produce;
let their reciprocal relations be such that they cannot be broken
without inflicting on each other the double suffering of privation and
a glut of commodities; and they will no longer stand in need of naval
armaments, which ruin them, and overgrown armies, which crush them;
the peace of the world will not then be compromised by the caprice of
a Thiers or of a Palmerston; and war will disappear for want of what
supports it, for want of resources, inducements, pretexts, and popular

I am quite aware that I shall be reproached (it is the fashion of
the day) with basing the fraternity of nations on men's personal
interest--vile, prosaic self-interest. Better far, it may be thought,
that it should have had its basis in charity, in love, even in a little
self-abnegation, and that, interfering somewhat with men's material
comforts, it should have had the merit of a generous sacrifice.

When shall we be done with these puerile declamations? When will
_tartuferie_ be finally banished from science? When shall we cease to
exhibit this nauseous contradiction between our professions and our
practice? We hoot at and execrate personal _interest_; in other words,
we denounce what is useful and good (for to say that all men are
interested in anything is to say that the thing is good in itself), as
if personal interest were not the necessary, eternal, and indestructible
mainspring to which Providence has confided human perfectibility. Are we
not represented as being all angels of disinterestedness? And does the
thought never occur to those who say so, that the public begins to see
with disgust that this affected language disfigures the pages of those
very writers who axe most successful in filling their own pockets at
the public expense? Oh! affectation! affectation! thou art verily the
besetting sin of our times!

What! because material prosperity and peace are things correlative,
because it has pleased God to establish this beautiful harmony in the
moral world, am I not to admire, am I not to adore His ordinances, am
I not to accept with gratitude laws which make justice the condition
of happiness? You desire peace only in as far as it runs counter to
material prosperity; and liberty is rejected because it does not impose
sacrifices. If abnegation has indeed so many charms for you, why do you
fail to practise it in private life? Society will be grateful to you,
for some one, at least, will reap the fruit; but to desire to impose
it upon mankind as a principle is the very height of absurdity, for the
abnegation of all is the sacrifice of all, which is evil erected into a

But, thank Heaven, one can write or read many of these declamations
without the world ceasing on that account to obey the social motive
force, which leads us to shun evil and seek after good, and which,
whether they like it or not, we must denominate personal interest.

After all, it is singular enough to see sentiments of the most sublime
self-denial invoked in support of spoliation itself. See to what this
boasted disinterestedness tends! These men who are so fantastically
delicate as not to desire peace itself, if it is founded on the vile
interest of mankind, put their hand into the pockets of others, and
especially of the poor; for what article of the tariff protects the
poor? Be pleased, gentlemen, to dispose of what belongs to yourselves
as you think proper, but leave us the disposal of the fruit of our own
toil, to use it or exchange it as we see best. Declaim on self-sacrifice
as much as you choose, it is all very fine and very beautiful, but be at
least consistent.


Machine-breaking--prohibition of foreign commodities--are two acts
founded on the same doctrine.

We see men who clap their hands when a great invention is introduced,
and who nevertheless adhere to the protectionist _régime_. Such men are
grossly inconsistent!

With what do they reproach free trade? With encouraging the production
by foreigners, more skilled or more favourably situated than we are, of
commodities which, but for free trade, would be produced at home. In a
word, they accuse free trade of being injurious to _national labour?_

For the same reason, should they not reproach machinery with
accomplishing by natural agents what otherwise would have been done by
manual labour, and so of being injurious to _human labour?_

The foreign workman, better and more favourably situated than the home
workman for the production of certain commodities, is, with reference to
the latter, a veritable _economic machine,_ crushing him by competition.
In like manner, machinery, which executes a piece of work at a lower
price than a certain number of men could do by manual labour, is, in
relation to these manual labourers, a veritable _foreign competitor_,
who paralyzes them by his rivalry.

If, then, it is politic to protect _national labour_ against the
competition of _foreign labour_, it is not less so to protect _human
labour_ against the rivalry of _mechanical labour_.

Thus, every adherent of the _régime_ of protection, if he is logical,
should not content himself with prohibiting foreign products; he should
proscribe also the products of the shuttle and the plough.

And this is the reason why I like better the logic of those men who,
declaiming against the invasion of foreign merchandise, declaim likewise
against the excess of production which is due to the inventive power of
the human mind.

Such a man is M. de Saint-Chamans. "One of the strongest arguments
against free trade," he says, "is the too extensive employment of
machinery, for many workmen are deprived of employment, either by
foreign competition, which lowers the price of our manufactured goods,
or by instruments which take the place of men in our workshops."*

     * Du Système d'impôts, p. 438.

M. de Saint-Chamans has seen clearly the analogy, or, we should rather
say, the identity, which obtains between imports and machinery. For this
reason, he proscribes both; and it is really agreeable to have to do
with such intrepid reasoners, who, even when wrong, carry out their
argument to its logical conclusion.

But here is the mess in which they land themselves.

If it be true, a priori, that the domain of invention and that of labour
cannot be simultaneously extended but at each other's expense, it must
be in those countries where machinery most abounds--in Lancashire, for
example--that we should expect to find the fewest workmen. And if, on
the other hand, we establish the fact that mechanical power and manual
labour coexist, and to a greater extent, among rich nations than among
savages, the conclusion is inevitable, that these two powers do not
exclude each other.

I cannot convince myself how any thinking being can enjoy a moment's
repose in presence of the following dilemma: Either the inventions of
man are not injurious to manual labour, as general facts attest, since
there are more of both in England and France than among the Hurons
and Cherokees, and that being so, I am on a wrong road, though I know
neither where nor when I missed my way; at all events, I see I am wrong,
and I should commit the crime of lese-humanity were I to introduce my
error into the legislation of my country.

Or else, the discoveries of the human mind limit the amount of manual
labour, as special facts appear to indicate; for I see every day some
machine or other superseding twenty or a hundred workmen; and then I
am forced to acknowledge a flagrant, eternal, and incurable antithesis
between the intellectual and physical powers of man--between his
progress and his present wellbeing; and in these circumstances I am
forced to say that the Creator of man might have endowed him with
reason, or with physical strength, with moral force, or with brute
force; but that He mocked him by conferring on him, at the same time,
faculties which are destructive of each other.

The difficulty is pressing and puzzling; but you contrive to find your
way out of it by adopting the strange apophthegm:

_In political economy, there are no absolute principles_.

In plain language, this means:

"I know not whether it be true or false; I am ignorant of what
constitutes general good or evil. I give myself no trouble about that.
The immediate effect of each measure upon my own personal interest is
the only law which I can consent to recognise."

There are no principles! You might as well say there are no facts; for
principles are merely formulas which classify such facts as are well

Machinery, and the importation of foreign commodities, certainly
produce effects. These effects may be good or bad; on that there may be
difference of opinion. But whatever view we take of them, it is reduced
to a formula, by one of these two principles: Machinery is a good; or,
machinery is an evil: Importations of foreign produce are beneficial;
or, such importations are hurtful. But to assert that there are no
principles, certainly exhibits the lowest degree of abasement to which
the human mind can descend; and I confess that I blush for my country
when I hear such a monstrous heresy proclaimed in the French Chambers,
and with their assent; that is to say, in the face and with the assent
of the _élite_ of our fellow-citizens; and this in order to justify
their imposing laws upon us in total ignorance of the real state of the

But then I am told to destroy the sophism, by proving that machinery is
not hurtful to human labour, nor the importation of foreign products to
national labour.

A work like the present cannot well include very full or complete
demonstrations. My design is rather to state difficulties than to
resolve them; to excite reflection rather than to satisfy doubts. No
conviction makes so lasting an impression on the mind as that which
it works out for itself. But I shall endeavour nevertheless to put the
reader on the right road.

What misleads the adversaries of machinery and foreign importations
is, that they judge of them by their immediate and transitory
effects, instead of following them out to their general and definitive

The immediate effect of the invention and employment of an ingenious
machine is to render superfluous, for the attainment of a given result,
a certain amount of manual labour. But its action does not stop there.
For the very reason that the desired result is obtained with fewer
efforts, the product is handed over to the public at a lower price; and
the aggregate of savings thus realized by all purchasers, enables them
to procure other satisfactions; that is to say, to encourage manual
labour in general to exactly the extent of the manual labour which has
been saved in the special branch of industry which has been recently
improved. So that the level of labour has not fallen, while that of
enjoyments has risen.

Let us render this evident by an example.

Suppose there are used annually in this country ten millions of hats
at 15 shillings; this makes the sum which goes to the support of this
branch of industry £7,500,000 sterling. A machine is invented which
allows these hats to be manufactured and sold at 10 shillings. The sum
now wanted for the support of this industry is reduced to £5,000,000,
provided the demand is not augmented by the change. But the remaining
sum of £2,500,000 is not by this change withdrawn from the support of
_human labour_. That sum, economized by the purchasers of hats, will
enable them to satisfy other wants, and, consequently, to that extent
will go to remunerate the aggregate industry of the country. With the
five shillings saved, John will purchase a pair of shoes, James a book,
Jerome a piece of furniture, etc. Human labour, taken in the aggregate,
will continue, then, to be supported and encouraged to the extent of
£7,500,000; but this sum will yield the same number of hats, plus all
the satisfactions and enjoyments corresponding to £2,500,000 that the
employment of the machine has enabled the consumers of hats to save.
These additional enjoyments constitute the clear profit which the
country will have derived from the invention. This is a free gift, a
tribute which human genius will have derived from nature. We do not at
all dispute, that in the course of the transformation a certain amount
of labour will have been _displaced_; but we cannot allow that it has
been destroyed or diminished.

The same thing holds of the importation of foreign commodities. Let us
revert to our former hypothesis.

The country manufactures ten millions of hats, of which the cost price
was 15 shillings. The foreigner sends similar hats to our market, and
furnishes them at 10 shillings each. I maintain that the _national
labour_ will not be thereby diminished.

For it must produce to the extent of £5,000,000, to enable it to pay for
10 millions of hats at 10 shillings.

And then there remains to each purchaser five shillings saved on
each hat, or in all, £2,500,000, which will be spent on other
enjoyments--that is to say, which will go to support labour in other
departments of industry.

Then the aggregate labour of the country will remain what it was, and
the additional enjoyments represented by £2,500,000 saved upon hats,
will form the clear profit accruing from imports under the system of
free trade.

It is of no use to try to frighten us by a picture of the sufferings
which, on this hypothesis, the displacement of labour will entail.

For, if the prohibition had never been imposed, the labour would have
found its natural place under the ordinary law of exchange, and no
displacement would have taken place.

If, on the other hand, prohibition has led to an artificial and
unproductive employment of labour, it is prohibition, and not liberty,
which is to blame for a displacement which is inevitable in the
transition from what is detrimental to what is beneficial.

At all events, let no one pretend that because an abuse cannot be done
away with, without inconvenience to those who profit by it, what has
been suffered to exist for a time should be allowed to exist for ever.


It is said that the most advantageous of all branches of trade is that
which supplies manufactured commodities in exchange for raw materials.
For these raw materials are the aliment and support of _national

Hence the conclusion is drawn:

That the best law of customs is that which gives the greatest possible
facility to the importation of raw materials, and which throws most
obstacles in the way of importing finished goods.

There is no sophism in political economy more widely disseminated than
this. It is cherished not only by the protectionist school, but also,
and above all, by the school which dubs itself liberal; and it is
unfortunate that it should be so, for what can be more injurious to a
good cause than that it should be at the same time vigorously attacked
and feebly defended?

Commercial liberty is likely to have the fate of liberty in general; it
will only find a place in the statute-book after it has taken possession
of men's minds and convictions. But if it be true that a reform, in
order to be solidly established, should be generally understood, it
follows that nothing can so much retard reform as that which misleads
public opinion; and what is more calculated to mislead public opinion
than works which, in advocating freedom, invoke aid from the doctrines
of monopoly?

Some years ago three of the great towns of France--Lyons, Bordeaux, and
Havre--united in a movement against the restrictive _régime_. All Europe
was stirred on seeing raised what they took for the banner of liberty.
Alas! it proved to be also the banner of monopoly--of a monopoly a
little more niggardly and much more absurd than that of which they
seemed to desire the overthrow. By the aid of the sophism which I
have just endeavoured to expose, the petitioners did nothing more than
reproduce the doctrine of protection to national industry, tacking to it
an additional inconsistency.

It was, in fact, nothing else than the _régime_ of prohibition. Just
listen to M. de Saint-Cricq:--

"Labour constitutes the wealth of a nation, because labour alone creates
those material objects which our wants demand; and universal ease and
comfort consist in the abundance of these things." So much for the

"But this abundance must be produced by _national labour_. If it were
the result of foreign labour, national labour would be immediately
brought to a stand." Here lies the error. _(See the preceding sophism.)_

"What course should an agricultural and manufacturing country take under
such circumstances? Reserve its markets for the products of its own soil
and of its own industry." Such is the end and design.

"And for that purpose, restrain by duties, and, if necessary, prohibit
importation of the products of the soil and industry of other nations."
Such are the means.

Let us compare this system with that which the Bordeaux petition

Commodities are there divided into three classes:--

"The first includes provisions, and _raw materials upon which no human
labour has been bestowed. In principle, a wise economy would demand
that this class should be free of duties_. Here we have no labour, no

"The second consists of products which have, _to some extent, been
prepared_. This preparation warrants such products being _charged with
a certain amount of duty_." Here protection begins, because here,
according to the petitioners, begins _national labour_.

"The third comprises goods and products in their finished and perfect
state. These contribute nothing to national labour, and we regard this
class as the most taxable." Here labour, and production along with it,
reach their maximum.

We thus see that the petitioners profess their belief in the doctrine,
that foreign labour is injurious to national labour; and this is the
_error_ of the prohibitive system.

They demand that the home market should be reserved for home industry.
That is the _design_ of the system of prohibition.

They demand that foreign labour should be subjected to restrictions and
taxes. These are the means employed by the system of prohibition.

What difference, then, can we possibly discover between the Bordeaux
petitioners and the Corypheus of restriction? One difference, and one
only--the greater or less extension given to the word labour.

M. de Saint-Cricq extends it to everything, and so he wishes to protect

"Labour constitutes all the wealth of a people," he says; "to protect
agricultural industry, and all agricultural industry; to protect
manufacturing industry, and all manufacturing industry, is the cry which
should never cease to be heard in this Chamber."

The Bordeaux petitioners take no labour into account but that of the
manufacturers; and for that reason they would admit them to the benefits
of protection.

"Raw materials are commodities upon which no human labour has been
bestowed. In principle, we should not tax them. Manufactured products
can no longer serve the cause of national industry, and we regard them
as the best subjects for taxation."

It is not our business in this place to inquire whether protection to
national industry is reasonable. M. de Saint-Cricq and the Bordeaux
gentlemen are at one upon this point, and, as we have shown in the
preceding chapters, we on this subject differ from both.

Our present business is to discover whether it is by M. de Saint-Cricq,
or by the Bordeaux petitioners, that the word labour is used in a
correct sense.

Now, in this view of the question, we think that M. de Saint-Cricq has
very much the best of it; and to prove this, we may suppose them to hold
some such dialogue as the following:--

M. de Saint-Cricq: You grant that national labour should be protected.
You grant that the products of no foreign labour can be introduced into
our market without superseding a corresponding amount of our national
labour. Only, you contend that there are a multiplicity of products
possessed of value (for they sell), but upon which no human labour has
been bestowed [vierges de tout travail humain]. And you enumerate, among
other things, com, flour, meat, cattle, tallow, salt, iron, copper,
lead, coal, wools, hides, seeds, etc.

If you will only prove to me that the value of these things is not due
to labour, I will grant that it is useless to protect them.

But, on the other hand, if I demonstrate to you that there is as much
labour worked up in a 100 fr. worth of wool as in a 100 fr. worth of
textile fabrics, you will allow that the one is as worthy of protection
as the other.

Now, why is this sack of wool worth 100 fr.? Is it not because that
is its cost price? and what does its cost price represent, but the
aggregate wages of all the labour, and profits of all the capital, which
have contributed to the production of the commodity?

The Bordeaux Petitioners: Well, perhaps as regards wool you may
be right. But take the case of a sack of corn, a bar of iron, a
hundredweight of coals,--are these commodities produced by labour? Are
they not created by nature?

M. de Saint-Cricq: Undoubtedly nature creates the elements of all these
things, but it is labour which produces the value. I was wrong myself
in saying that labour created material objects, and that vicious form
of expression has led me into other errors. It does not belong to man
to create, to make anything out of nothing, be he agriculturist or
manufacturer; and if by production is meant creation, all our labour
must be marked down as unproductive, and yours, as merchants, more
unproductive than all others, excepting perhaps my own.

The agriculturist, then, cannot pretend to have created corn, but he
has created value; I mean to say, he has, by his labour, and that of
his servants, labourers, reapers, etc., transformed into corn substances
which had no resemblance to it whatever. The miller who converts the
corn into flour, the baker who converts the flour into bread, do the
same thing.

In order that man may be enabled to clothe himself, a multitude of
operations are necessary. Prior to all intervention of human labour, the
true raw materials of cloth are the air, the water, the heat, the gases,
the light, the salts, which enter into its composition. These are the
raw materials upon which strictly speaking, no human labour has been
employed. They are _vierges de tout travail humain_; and since they
have no value, I should never dream of protecting them. But the
first application of labour converts these substances into grass and
provender, a second into wool, a third into yarn, a fourth into a woven
fabric, a fifth into clothing. Who can assert that the whole of these
operations, from the first furrow laid open by the plough, to the last
stitch of the tailor's needle, do not resolve themselves into labour?

And it is because these operations are spread over several branches of
industry, in order to accelerate and facilitate the accomplishment of
the ultimate object, which is to furnish clothing to those who have
need of it, that you desire, by an arbitrary distinction, to rank the
importance of such works in the order in which they succeed each other,
so that the first of the series shall not merit even the name of labour,
and that the last, being labour _par excellence_, shall be worthy of the
favours of protection?

The Petitioners: Yes; we begin to see that corn, like wool, is not
exactly a product of which it can be said that no human labour has been
bestowed upon it; but the agriculturist has not, at least, like the
manufacturer, done everything himself or by means of his workmen; nature
has assisted him, and if there is labour worked up in corn, it is not
the simple product of labour.

M. de Saint-Cricq: But its value resolves itself exclusively into
labour. I am happy that nature concurs in the material formation of
grain. I could even wish that it were entirely her work; but you must
allow that I have constrained this assistance of nature by my labour,
and when I sell you my corn you will remark this, that it is not for the
labour of nature that I ask you to pay, but for my own.

But, as you state the case, manufactured commodities are no longer the
exclusive products of labour. Is the manufacturer not beholden to nature
in his processes? Does he not avail himself of the assistance of the
steam-engine, of the pressure of the atmosphere, just as, with the
assistance of the plough, I avail myself of its humidity? Has he created
the laws of gravitation, of the transmission of forces, of affinity?

The Petitioners: Well, this is the case of the wool over again; but coal
is assuredly the work, the exclusive work, of nature. It is indeed a
product upon which no human labour has ever been bestowed.

M. de Saint-Cricq: Yes; nature has undoubtedly created the coal, but
labour has imparted value to it. For the millions of years during which
it was buried 100 fathoms under ground, unknown to everybody, it was
destitute of value. It was necessary to search for it--that is labour;
it was necessary to send it to market--that is additional labour.
Then the price you pay for it in the market is nothing else than the
remuneration of the labour of mining and transport.*

     * I do not particularize the parts of the remuneration
     falling to the lessee, the capitalist, etc., for several
     reasons:--1st, Because, on looking at the thing more
     closely, you will see that the remuneration always resolves
     itself into the reimbursement of advances or the payment of
     anterior labour. 2dly, Because, under the term labour, I
     include not only the wages of the workmen, but the
     legitimate recompense of everything which co-operates in the
     work of production. 3dly (and above all), Because the
     production of manufactured products is, like that of raw
     materials, burdened with auxiliary remunerations other than
     the mere expense of manual labour; and, moreover, this
     objection, frivolous in itself, would apply as much to the
     most delicate processes of manufacture, as to the rudest
     operations of agriculture.

Thus far we see that M. de Saint-Cricq has the best of the argument;
that the value of raw materials, like that of manufactured commodities,
represents the cost of production, that is to say, the labour worked
up in them; that it is not possible to conceive of a product possessing
value, which has had no human labour bestowed on it; that the
distinction made by the petitioners is futile in theory; that, as the
basis of an unequal distribution of favours, it would be iniquitous in
practice, since the result would be that one-third of our countrymen,
who happened to be engaged in manufactures, would obtain the advantages
of monopoly, on the alleged ground that they produce by labour, whilst
the other two-thirds--namely, the agricultural population--would be
abandoned to competition under the pretext that they produce without

The rejoinder to this, I am quite sure, will be, that a nation derives
more advantages from importing what are called raw materials, whether
produced by labour or not, and exporting manufactured commodities.
This will be repeated and insisted on, and it is an opinion very widely

"The more abundant raw materials are," says the Bordeaux petition, "the
more are manufactures promoted and multiplied."

"Raw materials," says the same document in another place, "open up an
unlimited field of work for the inhabitants of the countries into which
they are imported."

"Raw materials," says the Havre petition, "constituting as they do the
elements of labour, must be submitted to a different treatment, and
be gradually admitted at the lowest rate of duty." The same petition
expresses a wish that manufactured products should be admitted, not
gradually, but after an indefinite lapse of time, not at the lowest rate
of duty, but at a duty of 20 per cent.

"Among other articles, the low price and abundance of which are a
necessity," says the Lyons petition, "manufacturers include all raw

All this is founded on an illusion.

We have seen that all value represents labour. Now, it is quite true
that manufacturing labour increases tenfold, sometimes a hundredfold,
the value of the raw material; that is to say, it yields ten times, a
hundred times, more profit to the nation. Hence men are led to reason
thus: The production of a hundredweight of iron brings in a gain of
only fifteen shillings to workmen of all classes. The conversion of
this hundredweight of iron into the mainsprings of watches raises their
earnings to £500; and will any one venture to say that a nation has
not a greater interest to secure for its labour a gain of five
hundred pounds than a gain of fifteen shillings? We do not exchange a
hundredweight of unwrought iron for a hundredweight of watch-springs,
nor a hundredweight of unwashed wool for a hundredweight of cashmere
shawls; but we exchange a certain value of one of these materials for an
equal value of another. Now, to exchange equal value for equal value is
to exchange equal labour for equal labour. It is not true, then, that
a nation which sells five pounds' worth of wrought fabrics or
watch-springs, gains more than a nation which sells five pounds' worth
of wool or iron.

In a country where no law can be voted, where no tax can be imposed,
but with the consent of those whose dealings the law is to regulate, and
whose pockets the tax is to affect, the public cannot be robbed without
first being imposed on and misled. Our ignorance is the raw material of
every extortion from which we suffer, and we may be certain beforehand,
that every sophism is the precursor of an act of plunder. My good
friends I when you detect a sophism in a petition, button up your
breeches-pocket, for you may be sure that this is the mark aimed at.

Let us see, then, what is the real object secretly aimed at by the
shipowners of Bordeaux and Havre, and the manufacturers of Lyons, and
which is concealed under the distinction which they attempt to draw
between agricultural and manufactured commodities.

"It is principally this first class (that which comprises raw materials,
upon which no human labour has been bestowed) which affords," say
the Bordeaux petitioners, "the principal support to our merchant
shipping...." In principle, a wise economy would not tax this class....
The second (commodities partly wrought up) may be taxed to a certain
extent. The third (commodities which call for no more exertion of
labour) we regard as the fittest subjects of taxation.

The Havre petitioners "consider that it is indispensable to reduce
gradually the duty on raw materials to the lowest rate, in order
that our manufacturers may gradually find employment for the shipping
interest, which furnishes them with the first and indispensable
materials of labour."

The manufacturers could not remain behindhand in politeness towards the
shipowners. So the Lyons petition asks for the free introduction of raw
materials, "in order to prove," as they express it, "that the interests
of the manufacturing are not always opposed to those of the maritime

No; but then the interests of both, understood as the petitioners
understand them, are in direct opposition to the interests of
agriculture and of consumers.

Well, gentlemen, we have come at length to see what you are aiming at,
and the object of your subtle economical distinctions. You desire that
the law should restrain the transport of finished goods across the
ocean, in order that the more costly conveyance of raw and rough
materials, bulky, and mixed up with refuse, should afford greater
scope for your merchant shipping, and more largely employ your marine
resources. This is what you call a wise economy.

On the same principle, why do you not ask that the pines of Russia
should be brought to you with their branches, bark, and roots; the
silver of Mexico in its mineral state; the hides of Buenos Ayres
sticking to the bones of the diseased carcases from which they have been

I expect that railway shareholders, the moment they are in a majority in
the Chambers, will proceed to make a law forbidding the manufacture
of the brandy which is consumed in Paris. And why not? Would not a law
enforcing the conveyance of ten casks of wine for every cask of brandy
afford Parisian industry the indispensable materials of its labour, and
give employment to our locomotive resources?

How long will men shut their eyes to this simple truth?

Manufactures, shipping, labour--all have for end the general, the public
good; to create useless industries, to favour superfluous conveyances,
to support a greater amount of labour than is necessary, not for the
good of the public, but at the expense of the public--is to realize a
true _petitio principii_. It is not labour which is desirable for its
own sake; it is consumption. All labour without a commensurate result is
a loss. You may as well pay sailors for pitching stones into the sea as
pay them for transporting useless refuse. Thus, we arrive at the result
to which all economic sophisms, numerous as they are, conduct us,
namely, confounding the means with the end, and developing the one at
the expense of the other.


A sophism sometimes expands, and runs through the whole texture of a
long and elaborate theory. More frequently, it shrinks and contracts,
assumes the guise of a principle, and lurks in a word or a phrase.

May God protect us from the devil and from metaphors! was the
exclamation of Paul-Louis. And it is difficult to say which of them has
done most mischief in this world of ours. The devil, you will say; for
he has put the spirit of plunder into all our hearts. True, but he has
left free the means of repressing abuses by the resistance of those who
suffer from them. It is the sophism which paralyzes this resistance. The
sword which malice puts into the hands of assailants would be powerless,
did sophistry not break the buckler which should shield the party
assailed. It was with reason, therefore, that Malebranche inscribed on
the title-page of his work this sentence: _L'erreur est la cause de la
misère des hommes_.

Let us see in what way this takes place. Ambitious men are often
actuated by sinister and wicked intentions; their design, for example,
may be to implant in the public mind the germ of international hatred.
This fatal germ may develop itself, light up a general conflagration,
arrest civilization, cause torrents of blood to be shed, and bring upon
the country the most terrible of all scourges, invasion. At any
rate, and apart from this, such sentiments of hatred lower us in the
estimation of other nations, and force Frenchmen who retain any sense of
justice to blush for their country. These are undoubtedly most serious
evils; and to guard the public against the underhand practices of those
who would expose the country to such hazard, it is only necessary to see
clearly into their designs. How do they manage to conceal them? By the
use of metaphors. They twist, distort, and pervert the meaning of three
or four words, and the thing is done.

The word _invasion_ itself is a good illustration of this.

A French ironmaster exclaims: Preserve us from the invasion of English
iron. An English landowner exclaims in return: Preserve us from the
invasion of French corn. And then they proceed to interpose barriers
between the two countries. These barriers create isolation, isolation
gives rise to hatred, hatred to war, war to invasion. What does it
signify? cry the two sophists; is it not better to expose ourselves to
an eventual invasion than accept an invasion which is certain? And the
people believe them, and the barriers are kept up.

And yet what analogy is there between an exchange and an invasion? What
possible similarity can be imagined between a ship of war which comes to
vomit fire and devastation on our towns, and a merchant ship which comes
to offer a free voluntary exchange of commodities for commodities?

The same thing holds of the use made of the word _inundation_. This word
is ordinarily used in a bad sense, for we often see our fields injured,
and our harvests carried away by floods. If, however, they leave on
our soil something of greater value than what they carry away, like
the inundations of the Nile, we should be thankful for them, as the
Egyptians are. Before we declaim, then, against the inundations of
foreign products--before proceeding to restrain them by irksome and
costly obstacles--we should inquire to what class they belong, and
whether they ravage or fertilize. What should we think of Mehemet Ali,
if, instead of raising, at great cost, bars across the Nile, to extend
wider its inundations, he were to spend his money in digging a deeper
channel to prevent Egypt being soiled by the foreign slime which
descends upon her from the Mountains of the Moon? We display exactly
the same degree of wisdom and sense, when we desire, at the cost of
millions, to defend our country.... From what? From the benefits which
nature has bestowed on other climates.

Among the metaphors which conceal a pernicious theory, there is no one
more in use than that presented by the words _tribute and tributary_.

These words have now become so common that they are used as synonymous
with _purchase and purchaser_, and are employed indiscriminately.

And yet a tribute is as different from a purchase as a theft is from an
exchange; and I should like quite as well to hear it said, Cartouche has
broken into my strong-box and purchased a thousand pounds, as to hear
one of our deputies repeat, We have paid Germany tribute for a thousand
horses which she has sold us.

For what distinguishes the act of Cartouche from a purchase is, that he
has not put into my strong-box, and with my consent, a value equivalent
to what he has taken out of it.

And what distinguishes our remittance of £20,000 which we have made to
Germany from a tribute paid to her is this, that she has not received
the money gratuitously, but has given us in exchange a thousand horses,
which we have judged to be worth the £20,000.

Is it worth while exposing seriously such an abuse of language? Yes; for
these terms are used seriously both in newspapers and in books.

Do not let it be supposed that these are instances of a mere _lapsus
linguo_ on the part of certain ignorant writers! For one writer who
abstains from so using them, I will point you out ten who admit them,
and amongst the rest, the D'Argouts, the Dupins, the Villeles--peers,
deputies, ministers of state,--men, in short, whose words are laws,
and whose sophisms, even the most transparent, serve as a basis for the
government of the country.

A celebrated modern philosopher has added to the categories of Aristotle
the sophism which consists in employing a phrase which includes a
_petitio pinncipii_. He gives many examples of it; and he should have
added the word tributary to his list. The business, in fact, is to
discover whether purchases made from foreigners are useful or hurtful.
They are hurtful, you say. And why? Because they render us tributaries
to the foreigner. This is just to use a word which implies the very
thing to be proved.

It may be asked how this abuse of words first came to be introduced into
the rhetoric of the monopolists?

Money leaves the country to satisfy the rapacity of a victorious enemy.
Money also leaves the country to pay for commodities. An analogy is
established between the two cases by taking into account only the points
in which they resemble each other, and keeping out of view the points in
which they differ.

Yet this circumstance--that is to say, the non-reimbursement in the
first case, and the reimbursement voluntarily agreed upon in the
second--establishes betwixt them such a difference that it is really
impossible to class them in the same category. To hand over a hundred
pounds by force to a man who has caught you by the throat, or to hand
them over voluntarily to a man who furnishes you with what you want, are
things as different as light and darkness. You might as well assert that
it is a matter of indifference whether you throw your bread into the
river, or eat it, for in both cases the bread is destroyed. The vice
of this reasoning, like that applied to the word tribute, consists in
asserting an entire similitude between two cases, looking only at their
points of resemblance, and keeping out of sight the points in which they


All the sophisms which I have hitherto exposed have reference to a
single question--the system of restriction. There are other tempting
subjects, such as _vested interests, inopportuneness, draining away
our money_, etc., etc., with which I shall not at present trouble the

Nor does Social Economy confine herself to this limited circle.
_Fourierisme, Saint-Simonisme_, communism, mysticism, sentimentalism,
false philanthropy, affected aspirations after a chimerical equality and
fraternity; questions relating to luxury, to wages, to machinery, to
the pretended tyranny of capital, to colonies, to markets and vents for
produce, to conquests, to population, to association, emigration, taxes,
and loans,--have encumbered the field of science with a multiplicity of
parasitical arguments, of sophisms which afford work to the hoe and the
grubber of the diligent economist.

I am quite aware of the inconvenience attending this plan, or rather of
this absence of plan. To attack one by one so many incoherent sophisms,
which sometimes run foul of each other, and more frequently run into
each other, is to enter into an irregular and capricious struggle, and
involve ourselves in perpetual repetitions.

How much I should prefer to explain simply the situation in which things
are, without occupying myself with the thousand aspects under which
ignorance sees them!... To explain the laws under which societies
prosper or decay, is to demolish virtually all these sophisms at once.
When Laplace described all that was then known of the movements of
the heavenly bodies, he dissipated, without even naming them, all
the reveries of the Egyptian, Greek, and Hindoo astrologers far more
effectually than he could have done by refuting them directly in
innumerable volumes. Truth is one, and the work which explains it is an
edifice at once durable and imposing:

     Il brave les tyrans avides,
     Plus hardi que les Pyramides
     Et plus durable que l'airain.

Error is multifarious and of an ephemeral nature; and the work which
combats it does not carry in itself a principle of greatness and

But if the power, and perhaps the occasion, have been wanting to
enable me to proceed in the manner of Laplace and of Say, I cannot help
thinking that the form I have adopted has also its modest utility. It
seems to me well suited to the wants of our day, and the occasional
moments which are set aside for study.

A treatise has no doubt unquestionable superiority, but on one
condition--namely, that it is read and carefully pondered and thought
over. It is addressed to a select class of readers. Its mission is to
fix first of all, and afterwards enlarge, the circle of our acquired

A refutation of vulgar errors and prejudices cannot occupy this high
position. It aspires merely to clear the road before the march of truth,
to prepare men's minds for its reception, to rectify public opinion, and
disarm dangerous ignorance.

It is, above all, in the department of Social Economy that this
hand-to-hand struggle, that these constantly-recurring battles with
popular errors, are of true practical utility.

The sciences may be divided into two classes.

One of these classes may be known only to _savans_. It includes those
sciences the application of which constitutes the business of special
professions. The vulgar reap the fruit, in spite of their ignorance.
A man may find use for a watch, though ignorant of mechanics and
astronomy, and he may be carried along by a locomotive or a steamer,
trusting to the skill of the engineer and the pilot. We walk according
to the laws of equilibrium, although unacquainted with these laws, just
as M. Jourdain had talked prose all his life without knowing it.

But there are sciences which exercise on the public mind an influence
which is only in proportion to public enlightenment, and derive all
their efficacy, not from knowledge accumulated in some gifted minds, but
from knowledge diffused over the general masses. Among these we include
morals, medicine, social economy, and, in countries where men are their
own masters, Politics. It is to such sciences that the saying of Bentham
specially applies, "To disseminate them is better than to advance them."
What signifies it, that some great man, or even that God himself, should
have promulgated the laws of morality, as long as men, imbued with false
notions, mistake virtues for vices, and vices for virtues? What matters
it that Smith, Say, and, according to M. de Saint-Chamans, economists of
all schools, have proclaimed, in reference to commercial transactions,
the superiority of liberty over constraint, if the men who make our
laws, and for whom our laws are made, think differently?

Those sciences, which have been correctly named social, have also this
peculiarity, that being of universal and daily application, no one will
confess himself ignorant of them. When the business is to resolve a
question in chemistry or geometry, no one pretends to have acquired
these sciences by intuition, no one is ashamed to consult M. Thénard, or
makes any difficulty about referring to the works of Legendre or Bezout.
But in the social sciences, authority is scarcely acknowledged. As
each man daily takes charge of his morals, whether good or bad, of his
health, of his purse, of his politics, whether sound or absurd, so
each man believes himself qualified to discuss, comment, and pronounce
judgment on social questions. Are you ill? There is no old woman who
will not at once tell you the cause of your ailment, and the remedy
for it. "Humours," she will say; "you must take physic." But what are
humours? and is there any such disease? About this she gives herself
no concern. I cannot help thinking of this old woman when I hear social
maladies explained by these hackneyed phrases:--"The superabundance of
products," "the tyranny of capital," "an industrial plethora," and
other such commonplaces, of which we cannot even say, _Verba et voces,
protereaque nihil_, for they are so many pestilent errors.

From what I have said, two things result--1st, That the social sciences
must abound more in sophisms than others, because in them each man
takes counsel of his own judgment and instincts; 2d, That it is in these
sciences that sophisms are especially mischievous, because they mislead
public opinion, and in a matter, too, with reference to which public
opinion is force, is law.

In these sciences, then, we have need of two sorts of books, those which
explain them, and those which further and advance them--those which
establish truth, and those which combat error.

It seems to me that the inherent fault of this little work, repetition,
is exactly what will make it useful.

In the question I have treated, each sophism has undoubtedly its own
formula, and its special bearing, but all may be traced to a common
root, which is, _forgetting men's interests as consumers_. To point out
that a thousand errors may be traced to this prolific sophism, is to
teach the public to detect it, to estimate it at its true worth, and to
distrust it, under all circumstances.

After all, the design of my present work is not exactly to implant
convictions, but rather to awaken doubts.

I have no expectation that the reader, on laying down the book, will
exclaim _I know_; I would much rather that he should say candidly, _I am

"I am ignorant, for I begin to fear that there is something illusory in
the flattering promises of scarcity." (Sophism I.)

"I am not so much charmed with obstacles as I once was. (Sophism II.)

"_Effort without result_ no longer appears to me so desirable as _result
without effort_." (Sophism III.)

"It is very possible that the secret of trade does not consist, like
the secret of arms (if we adopt the definition of the bully in the
_Bourgeois Gentilhomme_), in giving and not receiving." (Sophism VI.)

"I can understand that a commodity is worth more in proportion as it has
had more labour bestowed upon it; but in exchange, will two equal values
cease to be equal values, because the one proceeds from the plough, and
the other from the loom?" (Sophism XXI.)

"I confess that I begin to think it singular that the human race should
be improved by shackles, and enriched by taxes; and, truth to say,
I should be relieved of a troublesome weight, I should experience
unmitigated satisfaction, were it proved to me, as the author of the
_Sophismes_ asserts, that there is no incompatibility between thriving
circumstances and justice, between peace and liberty, between the
extension of labour and the progress of intelligence." (Sophisms XIV.
and XX.)

"Then, without being quite convinced by his arguments, to which I know
not whether to give the name of reasonings or of paradoxes, I shall
apply myself to the acknowledged masters of the science."

Let us conclude this monography of sophism with a final and important

The world is not sufficiently alive to the influence exercised over it
by sophisms.

If I must speak my mind, when the _right of the strongest_ has been
put aside, sophisms have set up in its place _the right of the most
cunning_; and it is difficult to say which of these two tryants has been
the more fatal to humanity.

Men have an immoderate love of enjoyment, of influence, of
consideration, of power--in a word, of wealth.

At the same time, they are urged on by a strong, an overpowering,
inclination to procure the things they so much desire, at the expense of
other people.

But these other people--in plain language, the public--have an equally
strong desire to keep what they have got, if they can, and if they know

Spoliation, which plays so great a part in this world's affairs, has,
then, only two agents at command, _force and cunning_; and two limits,
_courage and intelligence_.

Force employed to effect spoliation forms the groundwork of human
annals. To trace back its history, would be to reproduce very nearly
the history of all nations--Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians,
Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Franks, Huns, Turks, Arabs, Monguls,
Tartars; not to speak of Spaniards in America, Englishmen in India,
Frenchmen in Africa, Russians in Asia, etc.

But civilized nations, at least, composed of men who produce wealth,
have become sufficiently numerous, and sufficiently strong to defend
themselves. Does this mean that they are no longer plundered? Not at
all; they are plundered as much as ever, and, what is more, they plunder
one another.

Only, the agent employed has been changed; it is no longer by _force,
but by cunning_, that they seize upon the public wealth.

To rob the public, we must first deceive it. The trick consists in
persuading the public that the theft is for its advantage; and by this
means inducing it to accept, in exchange for its property, services
which are fictitious, and often worse. Hence comes the Sophism,--Sophism
theocratic, Sophism economic, Sophism political, Sophism financial.
Since; then, force is held in check, the Sophism is not only an evil,
but the very genius of evil It must in its turn be held in check
also. And for that end we must render the public more cunning than the
cunning, as it has already become stronger than the strong.

Good Public! it is under the influence of this conviction that I
dedicate to you this first essay--although the preface is strangely
transposed, and the dedication somewhat late.




Why should I go on tormenting myself with this dry and dreary science of
_Political Economy?_

Why? The question is reasonable. Labour of every kind is in itself
sufficiently repugnant to warrant one in asking to what result it leads?

Let us see, then, how it is.

I do not address myself to those philosophers who profess to adore
poverty, if not on their own account, at least on the part of the human

I speak to those who deem wealth, of some importance. We understand by
that word, not the opulence of some classes, but the ease, the material
prosperity, the security, the independence, the instruction, the dignity
of all.

There are only two means of procuring the necessaries, conveniences, and
enjoyments of life: Production and Spoliation.

There are some people who represent Spoliation as an accident, a local
and transient abuse, branded by the moralist, denounced by the law, and
unworthy of the Economist's attention.

In spite of benevolence, in spite of optimism, we are forced to
acknowledge that Spoilation plays too prominent a part in the world, and
mingles too largely in important human affairs, to warrant the social
sciences, especially Political Economy, in holding it as of no account.

I go further. That which prevents the social order from attaining that
perfection of which it is susceptible, is the constant effort of its
members to live and enjoy themselves at the expense of each other.
So that if Spoliation did not exist, social science would be without
object, for society would then be perfect.

I go further still. When Spoliation has once become the recognised means
of existence of a body of men united and held together by social ties,
they soon proceed to frame a law which sanctions it, and to adopt a
system of morals which sanctities it.

It is sufficient to enumerate some of the more glaring forms which
Spoliation assumes, in order to show the place which it occupies in
human transactions.

There is first of all War. Among savages the conqueror puts to death the
vanquished, in order to acquire a right, which, if not incontestable,
is, at least, uncontested, to his enemy's hunting grounds.

Then comes Slavery. When man comes to find that the land may be made
fertile by means of labour, he says to his brother man, "Thine be the
labour, and mine the product."

Next we have Priestcraft. "According as you give or refuse me a portion
of your substance, I will open to you the gate of Heaven or of Hell."

Lastly comes Monopoly. Its distinguishing character is to leave in
existence the great social law of service for service, but to bring
force to bear upon the bargain, so as to impair the just proportion
between the service received and the service rendered.

Spoliation bears always in its bosom that germ of death by which it is
ultimately destroyed. It is rarely the many who despoil the few. Were
it so, the few would soon be reduced to such a state as to be no longer
able to satisfy the cupidity of the many, and spoliation would die out
for want of support.

It is almost always the majority who are oppressed, but spoliation is
not the less on this account subject to an inevitable check.

For, if the agent be Force, as in the cases of War and Slavery, it is
natural that Force, in the long run, should pass to the side of the
greatest number.

And, if the agent be Cunning, as in the case of Priestcraft and
Monopoly, it is natural that the majority should become enlightened,
otherwise intelligence would cease to be intelligence.

Another natural law deposits a second germ of death in the heart of
spoliation, which is this:

Spoliation not only _displaces_ wealth, but always partially _destroys_

War annihilates many values.

Slavery paralyzes, to a great extent, men's faculties.

Priestcraft diverts men's efforts towards objects which are puerile or

Monopoly transfers wealth from one pocket to another, but much is lost
in the transference.

This is an admirable law. Without it, provided there existed an
equilibrium between the forces of the oppressors and oppressed,
spoliation would have no limits. In consequence of the operation of
this law, the equilibrium tends always to be upset; either because the
spoliators have the fear of such a loss of wealth, or because, in the
absence of such fear, the evil constantly increases, and it is in the
nature of anything which constantly gets worse and worse, ultimately to
perish and be annihilated.

There comes at last a time when, in its progressive acceleration, this
loss of wealth is such that the spoliator finds himself poorer than he
would have been had there been no spoliation.

Take, for example, a people to whom the expense of war costs more than
the value of the booty.

A master who pays dearer for slave labour than for free labour.

A system of priestcraft, which, renders people so dull and stupid,
and destroys their energy to such an extent, that there is no longer
anything to be got from them.

A monopoly which increases its efforts at absorption in proportion as
there is less to absorb, just as one should endeavour to milk a cow more
vigorously in proportion as there is less milk to be got.

Monopoly, it will be seen, is a species of the genus spoliation. There
are many varieties; among others, Sinecures, Privileges, Restrictions.

Among the forms which it assumes, there are some which are very simple
and primitive. Of this kind are feudal rights. Under this _régime_ the
masses are despoiled, and they know it. It implies an abuse of force,
and goes down when force is wanting.

Others are very complicated. The masses are frequently despoiled without
knowing it. They may even imagine that they owe all to spoliation--not
only what is left to them, but what is taken from them, and what is lost
in the process. Nay more, I affirm that, in course of time, and owing to
the ingenious mechanism to which they become accustomed, many men become
spoliators without knowing that they are so, or desiring to be so.
Monopolies of this kind are engendered by artifice and nourished by
error. They disappear only with advancing enlightenment.

I have said enough to show that political economy has an evident
practical utility. It is the torch which, by exposing craft and
dissipating error, puts an end to this social disorder of spoliation.
Some one--I rather think a lady--has rightly described our science as
"_la serrure de sûreté du pécule populaire_."


Were this little book destined to last for three or four thousand years,
and, like a new Koran, to be read, re-read, pondered over, and studied
sentence by sentence, word by word, letter by letter; if it were
destined to a place in all the libraries of the world, and to be
explained by avalanches of annotations and paraphrases, I might abandon
to their fate the preceding observations, though somewhat obscure from
their conciseness; but since they require a gloss, I think it as well to
be my own commentator.

The true and equitable law of human transactions is the _exchange,
freely bargained for, of service for service_. Spoliation consists
in banishing by force or artifice this liberty of bargaining, for
the purpose of enabling a man or a class to receive a service without
rendering an equivalent service.

Spoliation by force consists in waiting till a man has produced a
commodity, and then depriving him of it by the strong hand.

This kind of spoliation is formally forbidden by the decalogue--_Thou
shalt not steal_.

When this takes place between individuals, it is called theft, and
leads to the hulks; when it takes place between nations, it is called
_conquest, and leads to glory_.

Whence this difference? It is proper to search out its caùse, for
it will reveal to us the existence of an irresistible power, public
opinion, which, like the atmosphere, surrounds and envelops us so
thoroughly that we cease to perceive it. Rousseau never said anything
truer than this: _Il faut beaucoup de philosophie pour observer les
faits qui sont trop près de nous_---"You need much philosophy to observe
accurately things which are under your nose."

A thief for the very reason that he does his work secretly, has always
public opinion against him. He frightens all who are within his reach.
Yet if he has associates, he takes pride in displaying before them his
skill and prowess. Here we begin to perceive the force of opinion; for
the applause of his accomplices takes away the sense of guilt, and even
prompts him to glory in his shame.

The _warrior_ lives in a different medium. The public opinion which
brands him is elsewhere, among the nations he has conquered, and he does
not feel its pressure. The public opinion at home applauds and sustains
him. He and his companions in arms feel sensibly the bond which imites
them. The country which has created enemies, and brought danger upon
herself, feels it necessary to extol the bravery of her sons. She
decrees to the boldest, who have enlarged her frontiers, or brought her,
in the greatest amount of booty, honours, renown, and glory. Poets sing
their exploits, and ladies twine wreaths and garlands for them. And such
is the power of public opinion that it takes from spoliation all idea of
injustice, and from the spoliator all sense of wrongdoing.

The public opinion which reacts against military spoliation makes
itself felt, not in the conquering, but in the conquered, country, and
exercises little influence. And yet it is not altogether inoperative,
and makes itself the more felt in proportion as nations have more
frequent intercourse, and understand each other better. In consequence,
we see that the study of languages, and a freer communication between
nations, tends to bring about and render predominant a stronger feeling
against this species of spoliation.

Unfortunately, it not unfrequently happens that the nations which
surround an aggressive and warlike people are themselves given to
spoliation when they can accomplish it, and thus become imbued with the
same prejudices.

In that case there is only one remedy--time; and nations must be taught
by painful experience the enormous evils of mutual spoliation.

We may note another check--a superior and growing morality. But the
object of this is to multiply virtuous actions. How then can morality
restrain acts of spoliation when public opinion places such acts in the
rank of the most exalted virtue? What more powerful means of rendering
a people moral than religion? And what religion more favourable to
peace than Christianity? Yet what have we witnessed for eighteen hundred
years? During all these ages we have seen men fight, not only in spite
of their religion, but in name of religion itself.

The wars waged by a conquering nation are not always offensive and
aggressive wars. Such a nation is sometimes so unfortunate as to be
obliged to send its soldiers into the field to defend the domestic
hearth, and to protect its families, its property, its independence, and
its liberty. War then assumes a character of grandeur and sacredness.
The national banner, blessed by the ministers of the God of peace,
represents all that is most sacred in the land; it is followed as
the living image of patriotism and of honour; and warlike virtues are
extolled above all other virtues. But when the danger is past, public
opinion still prevails; and by the natural reaction of a spirit of
revenge, which is mistaken for patriotism, the banner is paraded from
capital to capital. It is in this way that nature seems to prepare a
punishment for the aggressor.

It is the fear of this punishment, and not the progress of philosophy,
which retains arms in the arsenals; for we cannot deny that nations the
most advanced in civilization go to war, and think little of justice
when they have no reprisals to fear, as the Himalaya, the Atlas, and the
Caucasus bear witness.

If religion is powerless, and if philosophy is equally powerless, how
then are wars to be put an end to?

Political economy demonstrates, that even as regards the nation which
proves victorious; war is always made in the interest of the few, and
at the expense of the masses. When the masses, then, shall see this
clearly, the weight of public opinion, which is now divided, will come
to be entirely on the side of peace.

Spoliation by force assumes still another form. No man will engage
voluntarily in the business of production in order to be robbed of
what he produces. Man himself is therefore laid hold of, robbed of his
freedom and personality, and forced to labour. The language held to
him is not, "_If you do this for me, I will do that for you;" but this,
"Yours be the fatigue, and mine the enjoyment_." This is slavery, which
always implies abuse of force.

It is important to inquire whether it is not in the very nature of a
force which is incontestably dominant to commit abuses. For my own part,
I should be loath to trust it, and would as soon expect a stone pitched
from a height to stop midway of its own accord, as absolute power to
prescribe limits to itself.

I should like, at least, to have pointed out to me a country and an
epoch in which slavery has been abolished by the free, graceful, and
voluntary act of the masters.

Slavery affords a second and striking example of the insufficiency of
religious and philanthropical sentiments, when set in opposition to the
powerful and energetic sentiment of self-interest. This may appear a
melancholy view of the subject to certain modern schools who seek for
the renovating principle of society in self-sacrifice. Let them begin,
then, by reforming human nature.

In the West Indies, ever since the introduction of slavery, the masters,
from father to son, have professed the Christian religion. Many times
a day they repeat these words, "All men are brethren: to love your
neighbour is to fulfil the whole law."

And they continue to have slaves. Nothing appears to them more natural
and legitimate. Do modern reformers expect that their system of
morals will ever be as universally accepted,' as popular, of as great
authority, and be as much on men's lips, as the Gospel? And if the
Gospel has not been able to penetrate from the lips to the heart, by
piercing or surmounting the formidable barrier of self-interest, how can
they expect that their system of morals is to work this miracle?

What! is slavery then invulnerable? No; what has introduced it will
destroy it, I mean self-interest; provided that, in favouring the
special interests which have created this scourge, we do not run counter
to the general interests from which we look for the remedy.

It is one of the truths which political economy has demonstrated, that
free labour is essentially progressive, and slave labour necessarily
stationary. The triumph of the former, therefore, over the latter is
inevitable. What has become of the culture of indigo by slave labour?

Free labour directed to the production of sugar will lower its price
more and more, and slave property will become less and less valuable to
the owners. Slavery would long since have gone down of its own accord
in America, if in Europe our laws had not raised the price of sugar
artificially. It is for this reason that we see the masters, their
creditors, and their delegates working actively to maintain these laws,
which are at present the pillars of the edifice.

Unfortunately, they still carry along with them the sympathies of those
populations from among whom slavery has disappeared, and this again
shows how powerful an agent public opinion is.

If public opinion is sovereign, even in the region of Force, it is very
much more so in the region of Craft [_Ruse_], In truth, this is its true
domain. Cunning is the abuse of intelligence, and public opinion is
the progress of intelligence. These two powers are at least of the same
nature. Imposture on the part of the spoliator implies credulity on the
part of those despoiled, and the natural antidote to credulity is truth.
Hence it follows that to enlighten men's minds is to take away from this
species of spoliation what supports and feeds it.

I shall pass briefly in review some specimens of spoliation which are
due to craft exercised on a very extensive scale.

The first which presents itself is spoliation by priestcraft [_ruse

What is the object in view? The object is to procure provisions,
vestments, luxury, consideration, influence, power, by exchanging
fictitious for real services.

If I tell a man, "I am going to render you great and immediate
services," I must keep my word, or this man will soon be in a situation
to detect the imposture, and my artifice will be instantly unmasked.

But if I say to him, "In exchange for your services I am going to render
you immense service, not in this world, but in another; for after this
life is ended, your being eternally happy or miserable depends upon me.
I am an intermediate being between God and His creature, and I can, at
my will, open the gates of heaven or of hell." If this man only believes
me, I have him in my power.

This species of imposture has been practised wholesale since the
beginning of the world, and we know what plenitude of power was
exercised by the Egyptian priests.

It is easy to discover how these impostors proceed. We have only to ask
ourselves what we should do were we in their place.

If I arrived among an ignorant tribe with views of this sort, and
succeeded by some extraordinary and marvellous act to pass myself off
for a supernatural being, I should give myself out for an envoy of God,
and as possessing absolute control over the future destinies of man.

Then I should strictly forbid any inquiry into the validity of my titles
and pretensions. I should do more. As reason would be my most dangerous
antagonist, I should forbid the use of reason itself, unless applied
to this formidable subject. In the language of the savages, I should
_taboo_ this question and everything relating to it. To handle it, or
even think of it, should be declared an unpardonable sin.

It would be the very triumph of my art to guard with a _taboo_ barrier
every intellectual avenue which could possibly lead to a discovery of
my imposture; and what better security than to declare even doubt to be

And still to this fundamental security I should add others. For example,
effectually to prevent enlightenment ever reaching the masses, I should
appropriate to myself and my accomplices the monopoly of all knowledge,
which I would conceal under the veil of a dead language and hieroglyphic
characters; and in order that I should never be exposed to any danger,
I would take care to establish an institution which would enable me, day
after day, to penetrate the secrets of all consciences.

It would not be amiss that I should at the same time satisfy some of the
real wants of my people, especially if, in doing so, I could increase
my influence and authority. Thus, as men have great need of instruction,
and of being taught morals, I should constitute myself the dispenser of
these. By this means I should direct as I saw best the minds and hearts
of my people. I should establish an indissoluble connexion between
morals and my authority. I should represent them as incapable of
existing, except in this state of union; so that, if some bold man were
to attempt to stir a tabooed question, society at large, which could
not dispense with moral teaching, would feel the earth tremble under its
feet, and would turn with rage against this frantic innovator.

When things had come to this pass, it is obvious that the people would
become my property in a stricter sense than if they were my slaves.
The slave curses his chains--they would hug theirs; and I should thus
succeed in imprinting the brand of servitude, not on their foreheads,
but on their innermost consciences.

Public opinion alone can overturn such an edifice of iniquity; but where
can it make a beginning, when every stone of the edifice is tabooed? It
is obviously an affair of time and the printing-press.

God forbid that I should desire to shake the consoling religious
convictions which connect this life of trial with a life of felicity.
But that our irresistible religious aspirations have been abused, is
what no one, not even the head of the Church himself, can deny. It
appears to me that there is a sure test by which a people can discover
whether they are duped or not. Examine Religion and the Priest, in order
to discover whether the priest is the instrument of religion, or whether
religion is not rather the instrument of the priest.

_If the priest is the instrument of religion_, if his sole care is
to spread over the country morals and blessings, he will be gentle,
tolerant, humble, charitable, full of zeal; his life will be a
reflection of his Divine Model; he will preach liberty and equality
among men, peace and fraternity between nations; he will repel the
seductions of temporal power, desiring no alliance with what of all
things in the world most requires to be kept in check; he will be a man
of the people, a man of sound counsels, a man of consolation, a man of
public opinion, a man of the Gospel.

If, on the contrary, _religion is the instrument of the priest_, he
will treat it as we treat an instrument, which we alter, bend, and twist
about in all directions, so as to make it available for the purpose
we have in view. He will increase the number of questions which are
tabooed; his morals will change with times, men, and circumstances. He
will endeavour to impose upon people by gestures and studied attitudes;
and will mumble a hundred times a day words, the meaning of which
has evaporated, and which have come to be nothing better than a vain
conventionalism. He will traffic in sacred things, but in such a way
as not to shake men's faith in their sacredness; and he will take care,
when he meets with acute, clear-sighted people, not to carry on this
traffic so openly or actively as in other circumstances. He will mix
himself up with worldly intrigues; and he will take the side of men in
power, provided they embrace his side. In a word, in all his actions, we
shall discover that his object is not to advance the cause of religion
through the clergy, but the cause of the clergy through religion; and
as so many efforts must have an object, and as this object, on our
hypothesis, can be nothing else than wealth and power, the most
incontestable sign of the people having been duped is that the priest
has become rich and powerful.

It is quite evident that a true religion may be abused as well as a
false religion. The more respectable its authority is, the more is it
to be feared that the proofs of that respectability will be pressed too
far. But the results will be widely different. Abuses have a tendency to
excite the sound, enlightened, and independent portion of the population
to rebellion. And it is a much more serious thing to shake public belief
in a true than in a false religion.

Spoliation by such means, and the intelligence of a people, are always
in an inverse ratio to each other; for it is of the nature of abuses to
be carried as far only as safety permits. Not that in the midst of the
most ignorant people pure and devoted priests are never to be found; but
the question is, how can we prevent a knave from assuming the cassock,
and ambition from encircling his brow with a mitre? Spoliators obey the
Malthusian law: they multiply as the means of existence increase; and a
knave's means of existence is the credulity of his dupes. Public opinion
must be enlightened. There is no other remedy.

Another variety of spoliation by craft and artifice is to be found in
what are called _commercial frauds_, an expression, as it appears to me,
not sufficiently broad; for not only is the merchant who adulterates
his commodities, or uses a false measure, guilty of fraud, but the
physician who gets paid for bad advice, and the advocate who fans and
encourages lawsuits. In an exchange between two services, one of them
may be of bad quality; but here, the services received being stipulated
for beforehand, spoliation must evidently recede before the advance of
public enlightenment.

Next in order come abuses of _public services_--a vast field of
spoliation, so vast that we can only glance at it.

Had man been created a solitary animal, each man would work for himself.
Individual wealth would, in that case, be in proportion to the services
rendered by each man to himself.

_But, man being a sociable animal, services are exchanged for other
services_; a proposition which you may, if you choose, construe
backwards [_à rebours_].

There exist in society wants so general, so universal, that its members
provide for them by organizing public services. Such, for example, is
the need of security. We arrange, we club together, to remunerate by
services of various kinds those who render us the service of watching
over the general security.

There is nothing which does not come within the domain of political
economy. Do this for me, and I will do that for you. The essence of the
transaction is the same, the remunerative process alone is different;
but this last is a circumstance of great importance.

In ordinary transactions, each man is the judge, both of the service he
receives and the service he renders. He can always refuse an exchange,
or make it elsewhere; whence the necessity of bringing to market
services which will be willingly accepted.

It is not so in state matters, especially before the introduction of
representative government. Whether we have need of such services as the
government furnishes or not, whether they are good or bad, we are forced
always to accept them such as they are, and at the price at which the
government estimates them.

Now it is the tendency of all men to see through the small end of the
telescope the services which they render, and through the large end the
services which they receive. In private transactions, then, we should be
led a fine dance, if we were without the security afforded by _a price
freely and openly bargained for_.

Now this guarantee we have either not at all or to a very limited
extent in public transactions. And yet the government, composed of men
(although at the present day they would persuade us that legislators are
something more than men), obeys the universal tendency. The government
desires to render us great service, to serve us more than we need, and
to make us accept, as true services, services which are sometimes very
far from being so, and to exact from us in return other services or

In this way the state is also subject to the Malthusian law. It tends to
pass the level of its means of existence, it grows great in proportion
to these means, and these means consist of the people's substance. Woe,
then, to those nations who are unable to set bounds to the action of the
government! Liberty, private enterprise, wealth, thrift, independence,
all will be wanting in such circumstances.

For there is one circumstance especially which it is very necessary
to mark--it is this: Among the services which we demand from the
government, the principal one is security. To ensure this there
is needed a force which is capable of overcoming all other forces,
individual or collective, internal or external, which can be brought
against it. Combined with that unfortunate disposition, which we
discover in men to live at other people's expense, there is here a
danger which is self-evident.

Just consider on what an immense scale, as we learn from history,
spoliation has been exercised through the abuse and excess of the powers
of government. Consider what services have been rendered to the people,
and what services the public powers have exacted from them, among the
Assyrians, the Babylonians, Egyptians, Romans, Persians, Turks, Chinese,
Russians, English, Spaniards, Frenchmen. Imagination is startled at the
enormous disproportion.

At length, representative government has been instituted, and we should
have thought, _a priori_, that these disorders would have disappeared as
if by enchantment.

In fact, the principle of representative government is this: "The people
themselves, by their representatives, are to decide on the nature and
extent of the functions which they judge it right to regard as public
services, and the amount of remuneration to be attached to such

The tendency to appropriate the property of others, and the tendency to
defend that property, being thus placed in opposite scales, we should
have thought that the second would have outweighed the first.

I am convinced that this is what must ultimately happen, but it has not
happened hitherto.

Why? For two very simple reasons. Governments have had too much, and the
people too little, sagacity.

Governments are very skilful. They act with method and consistency,
upon a plan well arranged, and constantly improved by tradition and
experience. They study men, and their passions. If they discover, for
example, that they are actuated by warlike impulses, they stimulate this
fatal propensity, and add fuel to the flame. They surround the nation
with dangers through the action of diplomacy, and then they very
naturally demand more soldiers, more sailors, more arsenals and
fortifications; sometimes they have not even to solicit these, but
have them offered; and then they have rank, pensions, and places to
distribute. To meet all this, large sums of money are needed, and taxes
and loans are resorted to.

If the nation is generous, government undertakes to cure all the ills
of humanity; to revive trade, to make agriculture flourish, to develop
manufactures, encourage arts and learning, extirpate poverty, etc.,
etc. All that requires to be done is to create offices, and pay

In short, the tactics consist in representing restraints as effective
services; and the nation pays, not for services, but for disservices.
Governments, assuming gigantic proportions, end by eating up half the
revenues they exact. And the people, wondering at being obliged to work
so hard, after hearing of inventions which are to multiply products _ad
infinitum_.... continue always the same overgrown children they were

While the government displays so much skill and ability, the people
display scarcely any. When called upon to elect those whose province it
is to determine the sphere and remuneration of governmental action, whom
do they choose? The agents of the government. Thus, they confer on
the executive the power of fixing the limits of its own operations and
exactions. They act like the _Bourgeois Gentilhomme_, who, in place of
himself deciding on the number and cut of his coats, referred the whole
thing--to his tailor.

And when matters have thus gone on from bad to worse, the people at
length have their eyes opened, not to the remedy--(they have not got
that length yet)--but to the evil.

To govern is so agreeable a business, that every one aspires to it.
The counsellors of the people never cease telling them: We see your
sufferings, and deplore them. It would be very different if we governed

In the meantime, and sometimes for a long period, there are rebellions
and _émeutes_. When the people are vanquished, the expense of the war
only adds to their burdens. When they are victorious, the _personnel_ of
the government is changed, and the abuses remain unreformed.

And this state of things will continue until the people shall learn to
know and defend their true interests--so that we always come back
to this, that there is no resource but in the progress of public

Certain nations seem marvellously disposed to become the prey of
government spoliation; those especially where the people, losing sight
of their own dignity and their own energy, think themselves undone if
they are not _governed and controlled_ in everything. Without having
travelled very much, I have seen countries where it is believed
that agriculture can make no progress unless experimental farms are
maintained by the government; that there would soon be no horses but for
the state _haras_; and that fathers of families would either not educate
their children, or have them taught immorality, if the state did
not prescribe the course of education, etc., etc. In such a country,
revolutions succeed each other, and the governing powers are changed in
rapid succession. But the governed continue nevertheless to be governed
on the principle of mercy and compassion (for the tendency which I am
here exposing is the very food upon which governments live), until
at length the people perceive that it is better to leave the greatest
possible number of services in the category of those which the parties
interested exchange at _a price fixed by free and open bargaining_.

We have seen that an exchange of services constitutes society; and it
must be an exchange of good and loyal services. But we have shown also
that men have a strong interest, and consequently an irresistible bent,
to exaggerate the relative value of the services which they render.
And, in truth, I can perceive no other cure for this evil but the free
acceptance or the free refusal of those to whom these services are

Whence it happens that certain men have recourse to the law in order
that it may control this freedom in certain branches of industry. This
kind of spoliation is called Privilege or Monopoly. Mark well its origin
and character.

Everybody knows that the services which he brings to the general market
are appreciated and remunerated in proportion to their rarity. The
intervention of law is invoked to drive out of the market all those who
come to offer analogous services; or, which comes to the same thing, if
the assistance of an instrument or a machine is necessary to enable such
services to be rendered, the law interposes to give exclusive possession
of it.

This variety of spoliation being the principal subject of the present
volume, I shall not enlarge upon it in this place, but content myself
with one remark.

When monopoly is an isolated fact, it never fails to enrich the man
who is invested with it. It may happen, then, that other classes of
producers, in place of waiting for the downfall of this monopoly, demand
for themselves similar monopolies. This species of spoliation, thus
erected into a system, becomes the most ridiculous of mystifications for
everybody; and the ultimate result is, that each man believes himself to
be deriving greater profit from a market which is impoverished by all.

It is unnecessary to add, that this strange _régime_ introduces a
universal antagonism among all classes, all professions, and all
nations; that it calls for the interposition (constant, but always
uncertain) of government action; that it gives rise to all the abuses we
have enumerated; that it places all branches of industry in a state of
hopeless insecurity; and that it accustoms men to rely upon the law,
and not upon themselves, for their means of subsistence. It would be
difficult to imagine a more active cause of social perturbation.

But it may be said, Why make use of this ugly term, Spoliation? It
is coarse, it wounds, irritates, and turns against you all calm and
moderate men--it envenoms the controversy.

To speak plainly, I respect the persons, and I believe in the sincerity
of nearly all the partisans of protection; I claim no right to call in
question the personal probity, the delicacy, the philanthropy, of any
one whatsoever. I again repeat that protection is the fruit, the fatal
fruit, of a common error, of which everybody, or at least the majority
of men, are at once the victims and the accomplices. But with all this I
cannot prevent things being as they are.

Figure Diogenes putting his head out of his tub, and saying, "Athenians,
you are served by slaves. Has it never occurred to you, that you thereby
exercise over your brethren the most iniquitous species of spoliation?"

Or, again, figure a tribune speaking thus in the forum: "Romans, you
derive all your means of existence from the pillage of all nations in


In saying so, they would only speak undoubted truth. But are we to
conclude from this that Athens and Rome were inhabited only by bad and
dishonest people, and hold in contempt Socrates and Plato, Cato and

Who could entertain for a moment any such thought? But these great men
lived in a social medium which took away all consciousness of injustice.
We know that Aristotle could not even realize the idea of any society
existing without slavery.

Slavery in modern times has existed down to our own day without exciting
many scruples in the minds of planters. Armies serve as the instruments
of great conquests, that is to say, of great spoliations. But that is
not to say that they do not contain multitudes of soldiers and officers
personally of as delicate feelings as are usually to be found in
industrial careers, if not indeed more so; men who would blush at the
very thought of anything dishonest, and would face a thousand deaths
rather than stoop to any meanness.

We must not blame individuals, but rather the general movement which
carries them along, and blinds them to the real state of the case; a
movement for which society at large is responsible.

The same thing holds of monopoly. I blame the system, and not
individuals--society at large, and not individual members of society. If
the greatest philosophers have been unable to discover the iniquity of
slavery, how much more easily may agriculturists and manufacturers have
been led to take a wrong view of the nature and effects of a system of


Having reached, if he has reached, the end of the last chapter, I fancy
I hear the reader exclaim:

"Well, are we wrong in reproaching economists with being dry and
cold? What a picture of human nature! What! Is spoliation, then, to be
regarded as an inevitable, almost normal, force, assuming all forms,
at work under all pretexts, by law and without law, jobbing and abusing
things the most sacred, working on feebleness and credulity by turns,
and making progress just in proportion as these are prevalent! Is there
in the world a more melancholy picture than this?"

The question is not whether the picture be melancholy, but whether it is
true. History will tell us.

It is singular enough that those who decry political economy (or
_economisme_, as they are pleased to call it), because that science
studies man and the world as they are, are themselves much further
advanced in pessimism, at least as regards the past and the present,
than the economists whom they disparage. Open their books and their
journals; and what do you find? Bitterness, hatred of society, carried
to such a pitch that the very word civilization is in their eyes the
synonym of injustice, dis-order, and anarchy. They go the length even of
denouncing liberty, so little confidence have they in the development of
the human race as the natural result of its organization. Liberty! it is
liberty, as they think, which is impelling us nearer and nearer to ruin.

True, these writers are optimists in reference to the future. For if the
human race, left to itself, has pursued a wrong road for six thousand
years, a discoverer has appeared, who has pointed out the true way of
safety; and however little the flock may regard the pastor's crook,
they will be infallibly led towards the promised land, where happiness,
without any effort on their part, awaits them, and where order,
security, and harmony are the cheap reward of improvidence.

The human race have only to consent to these reformers changing (to use
Rousseau's expression) _its physical and moral constitution_.

It is not the business of political economy to inquire what society
might have become had God made man otherwise than He has been pleased to
make him. It may perhaps be a subject of regret that in the beginning,
Providence should have forgotten to call to its counsels some of our
modern _organisateurs_. And as the celestial mechanism would have been
very differently constructed had the Creator consulted Alphonsus the
Wise, in the same way had He only taken the advice of Fourrier, the
social order would have had no resemblance to that in which we are
forced to breathe, live, and move. But since we are here--since _in
eo vivimus, movemur, et minus_--all we have to do is to study and make
ourselves acquainted with the laws of the social order in which we find
ourselves, especially if its amelioration depends essentially on our
knowledge of these laws.

We cannot prevent the human heart from being the seat of insatiable

We cannot so order it that these desires should be satisfied without

We cannot so order it that man should not have as much repugnance to
labour as desire for enjoyment.

We cannot so order it that from this organization there should not
result a perpetual effort on the part of certain men to increase their
own share of enjoyments at the expense of others; throwing over upon
them, by force or cunning, the labour and exertion which are the
necessary condition of such enjoyments being obtained.

It is not for us to go in the face of universal history, or stifle the
voice of the past, which tells us that such has been the state of
things from the beginning. We cannot deny that war, slavery, thraldom,
priestcraft, government abuses, privileges, frauds of every kind, and
monopolies, have been the incontestable and terrible manifestations
of these two sentiments combined in the heart of man--_desire of
enjoyments, and repugnance to fatigue_.

_In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread_. Yes, but every one
desires to have the greatest possible quantity of bread, with the least
possible amount of sweat. Such is the testimony of history.

But let us be thankful that history also shows us that the diffusion of
enjoyments and of efforts has a tendency to become more and more equal
among men.

Unless we shut our eyes to the light of the sun, we must admit that
society has in this respect made progress.

If this be so, there must be in society a natural and providential
force, a law which repels more and more the principle of dishonesty, and
realizes more and more the principle of justice.

We maintain that this force exists in society, and that God has placed
it there. If it did not exist, we should be reduced, like Utopian
dreamers, to seek for it in artificial arrangements, in arrangements
which imply a previous alteration in the physical and moral constitution
of man; or rather, we should conclude that the search was useless and
vain, for the simple reason that we cannot understand the action of a
lever without its fulcrum.

Let us try, then, to describe the beneficent force which tends gradually
to surmount the mischievous and injurious force to which we have given
the name of spoliation, and the presence of which is only too well
explained by reasoning, and established by experience.

Every injurious or hurtful act has necessarily two terms: the point
whence it comes, and the point to which it tends--the _terminus a quo,
and the terminus ad quern_--the man who acts, and the man acted upon;
or, in the language of the schoolmen, the _agent and the patient_.

We may be protected, then, from an injurious act in two ways: by the
voluntary abstention of the agent; or by the resistance of the patient.

These two moral principles, far from running counter to each other,
concur in their action, namely, the religious or philosophical moral
principle, and the moral principle which I shall venture to term

The religious moral principle, in order to ensure the suppression of an
injurious act, addresses its author, addresses man in his capacity of
agent, and says to him: "Amend your life; purify your conduct; cease
to do evil; learn to do well; subdue your passions; sacrifice
self-interest; oppress not your neighbour, whom it is your duty to love
and assist; first of all, be just, and be charitable afterwards." This
species of moral principle will always be esteemed the most beautiful
and touching, that which best displays the human race in its native
majesty, which will be most extolled by the eloquent, and call forth the
greatest amount of admiration and sympathy.

The economic moral principle aspires at attaining the same result; but
addresses man more especially in the capacity of patient. It points out
to him the effects of human actions, and by that simple explanation,
stimulates him to react against those who injure him, and honour those
who are useful to him. It strives to disseminate among the oppressed
masses enough of good sense, information, and well-founded distrust, to
render oppression more and more difficult and dangerous.

We must remark, too, that the economic principle of morality does not
fail to act likewise on the oppressor. An injurious act is productive of
both good and evil; evil for the man who is subject to it, and good for
the man who avails himself of it; without which indeed it would not have
been thought of. But the good and the evil are far from compensating
each other. The sum total of evil always and necessarily preponderates
over the good; because the very fact that oppression is present entails
a loss of power, creates dangers, provokes reprisals, and renders,
costly precautions necessary. The simple explanation of these effects,
then, not only provokes reaction on the part of the oppressed, but
brings over to the side of justice all whose hearts are not perverted,
and disturbs the security of the oppressors themselves.

But it is easy to understand that this economic principle of morality,
which is rather virtual than formal; which is only, after all, a
scientific demonstration, which would lose its efficacy if it changed
its character; which addresses itself not to the heart, but to the
intellect; which aims at convincing rather than persuading; which does
not give advice, but furnishes proofs; whose mission is not to touch the
feelings, but enlighten the judgment, which obtains over vice no other
victory than that of depriving it of support; it is easy, I say, to
understand why this principle of morality should be accused of being dry
and prosaic.

The reproach is well founded in itself, without being just in its
application. It just amounts to saying that political economy does not
discuss everything, that it does not comprehend everything--that it
is not, in short, universal science. But who ever claimed for it this
character, or put forward on its behalf so exorbitant a pretension?

The accusation would be well founded only if political economy presented
its processes as exclusive, and had the presumption, if we may so speak,
to deny to philosophy and religion their own proper and peculiar means
of working for the cultivation and improvement of man.

Let us admit, then, the simultaneous action of morality, properly so
called, and of political economy; the one branding the injurious act in
its motive, and exposing its unseemliness, the other discrediting it in
our judgment, by a picture of its effects.

Let us admit even that the triumph of the religious moralist, when
achieved, is more beautiful, more consoling, more fundamental But we
must at the same time acknowledge that the triumph of the economist is
more easy and more certain.

In a few lines, which are worth many large volumes, J. B. Say has said
that, to put an end to the disorder introduced into an honourable family
by hypocrisy there are only two alternatives: to _reform Tartuffe, or
sharpen the wits of Orgon_. Molière, that great painter of the human
heart, appears constantly to have regarded the second of these processes
as the more efficacious.

It is the same thing in real life, and on the stage of the world.

Tell me what Cæsar did, and I will tell you what the character was of
the Romans of his time.

Tell me what modern diplomacy accomplishes, and I will tell you what is
the moral condition of the nations among whom it is exercised.

We should not be paying nearly two milliards [£80,000,000 sterling] of
taxes, if we did not empower those who live upon them to vote them.

We should not have been landed in all the difficulties and charges to
which the African question has given rise, had we had our eyes open to
the fact that _two and two make four, in political economy, as well as
in arithmetic_.

M. Guizot would not have felt himself authorized to say that _France is
rich enough to pay for her glory_, if France had never been smitten with
the love of false glory.

The same statesman would never have ventured to say that liberty is
too precious a thing for France to stand higgling about its price,
had France only reflected that a _heavy budget and liberty are

It is not by monopolists, but by their victims, that monopolies are

In the matter of elections, it is not because there are parties who
offer bribes that there are parties open to receive them, but the
contrary; and the proof of this is, that it is the parties who receive
the bribes who, in the long run, defray the cost of corruption. Is it
not their business to put an end to the practice?

Let the religious principle of morality, if it can, touch the hearts of
the Tartuffes, the Cæsars, the planters of colonies, the sinecurists,
the monopolists, etc. The clear duty of political economy is to
enlighten their dupes.

Of these two processes, which exercises the more efficacious influence
on social progress? I feel it almost unnecessary to say, that I believe
it is the second; and I fear we can never exempt mankind from the
necessity of learning first of all _defensive morality_.

After all I have heard and read and observed, I have never yet met
with an instance of an abuse which had been in operation on a somewhat
extensive scale, put an end to by the voluntary renunciation of those
who profit by it.

On the other hand, I have seen many abuses put down by the determined
resistance of those who suffered from them.

To expose the effects of abuses, then, is the surest means of putting
an end to them. And this holds especially true of abuses like the policy
of restriction, which, whilst inflicting real evils on the masses,
are productive of nothing to those who imagine they profit by them but
illusion and deception!

After all, can the kind of morality we are advocating of itself enable
us to realize all that social perfection which the sympathetic nature of
the soul of man and its noble faculties authorize us to look forward to
and hope for? I am far from saying so. Assume the complete diffusion of
defensive morality, it resolves itself simply into the conviction that
men's interests, rightly understood, are always in accord with justice
and general utility. Such a society, although certainly well ordered,
would not be very attractive. There would be fewer cheats simply because
there would be fewer dupes. Vice always lurking in the background, and
starved, so to speak, for want of support, would revive the moment that
support was restored to it.

The prudence of each would be enforced by the vigilance of all; and
reform, confining itself to the regulation of external acts, and never
going deeper than the skin, would fail to penetrate men's hearts and
consciences. Such a society would remind us of one of those exact,
rigorous, and just men, who are ready to resent the slightest invasion
of their rights, and to defend themselves on all sides from attacks. You
esteem them; you perhaps admire them; you would elect them as deputies;
but you would never make them your friends.

But the two principles of morality I have described, instead of running
counter to each other, work in concert, attacking vice from opposite
directions. Whilst the economists are doing their part, sharpening the
wits of the Orgons, eradicating prejudices, exciting just and necessary
distrust, studying and explaining the true nature of things and of
actions, let the religious moralist accomplish on his side his more
attractive, although more difficult, labours. Let him attack dishonesty
in a hand-to-hand fight; let him pursue it into the most secret
recesses of the heart; let him paint in glowing colours the charms
of beneficence, of self-sacrifice, of devotion; let him open up the
fountains of virtue, where we can only dry up the fountains of vice.
This is his duty, and a noble duty it is. But why should he contest the
utility of the duty which has devolved upon us?

In a society which, without being personally and individually virtuous,
would nevertheless be well ordered through the action of the economic
principle of morality (which means a knowledge of the economy of the
social body), would not an opening be made for the work of the religious

Habit, it is said, is a second nature.

A country might still be unhappy, although for a long time each man may
have been unused to injustice through the continued resistance of an
enlightened public. But such a country, it seems to me, would be well
prepared to receive a system of teaching more pure and elevated. We get
a considerable way on the road to good, when we become unused to evil.
Men can never remain stationary. Diverted from the path of vice, feeling
that it leads only to infamy, they would feel so much the more sensibly
the attractions of virtue.

Society must perhaps pass through this prosaic state of transition, in
which men practise virtue from motives of prudence, in order to rise
afterwards to that fairer and more poetic region where such calculating
motives are no longer wanted.


_Petition of Jacques Bonhomme, Carpenter, to M. Cunin-Gridaine, Minister
of Commerce_.

Monsieur le Fabricant-Ministre,

I am a carpenter to trade, as was St Joseph of old; and I handle the
hatchet and adze, for your benefit.

Now, while engaged in hewing and chopping from morning to night upon the
lands of our Lord the King, the idea has struck me that my labour may be
regarded as _national_, as well as yours.

And, in these circumstances, I cannot see why protection should not
visit my woodyard as well as your workshop.

For, sooth to say, if you make cloths I make roofs; and both, in their
own way, shelter our customers from cold and from rain.

And yet I run after customers; and customers run after you. You have
found out the way of securing them by hindering them from supplying
themselves elsewhere, while mine apply to whomsoever they think proper.

What is astonishing in all this? Monsieur Cunin, the Minister of State,
has not forgotten M. Cunin, the manufacturer--all quite natural. But,
alas! my humble trade has not given a Minister to France, although
practised, in Scripture times, by far more august personages.

And in the immortal code which I find embodied in Scripture, I cannot
discover the slightest expression which could be quoted by carpenters,
as authorizing them to enrich themselves at the expense of other people.

You see, then, how I am situated. I earn fifteen pence a day, when it
is not Sunday or holiday. I offer you my services at the same time as
a Flemish carpenter offers you his, and, because he abates a halfpenny,
you give him the preference.

But I desire to clothe myself; and if a Belgian weaver presents his
cloth alongside of yours, you drive him and his cloth out of the

So that, being forced to frequent your shop, although the dearest, my
poor fifteen pence go no further in reality than fourteen.

Nay, they are not worth more than thirteen! for in place of expelling
the Belgian weaver at your own cost (which was the least you could do),
you, for your own ends, make me pay for the people you set at his heels.

And as a great number of your co-legislators, with whom you are on
a marvellously good footing, take each a halfpenny or a penny, under
pretext of protecting iron, or coal, or oil, or corn, I find, when
everything is taken into account, that of my fifteen pence, I have only
been able to save seven pence or eight pence from pillage.

You will no doubt tell me that these small halfpence, which pass in this
way from my pocket to yours, maintain workpeople who reside around your
castle, and enable you to live in a style of magnificence. To which I
will only reply, that if the pence had been left with me, the
person who earned them, they would have maintained workpeople in my

Be this as it may, Monsieur le Ministre-fabricant, knowing that I should
be but ill received by you, I have not come to require you, as I had
good right to do, to withdraw the restriction which you impose on your
customers. I prefer following the ordinary course, and I approach you to
solicit a little bit of protection for myself.

Here, of course, you will interpose a difficulty. "My good friend,"
you will say, "I would protect you and your fellow-workmen with all my
heart; but how can I confer customhouse favours on carpenter-work?
What use would it be to prohibit the importation of houses by sea or by

That would be a good joke, to be sure; but, by dint of thinking, I have
discovered another mode of favouring the children of St Joseph; which
you will welcome the more willingly, I hope, as it differs in nothing
from that which constitutes the privilege which you vote year after year
in your own favour.

The means of favouring us, which I have thus marvellously discovered, is
to prohibit the use of sharp axes in this country.

I maintain that such a restriction would not be in the least more
illogical or more arbitrary than the one to which you subject us in the
case of your cloth.

Why do you drive away the Belgians? Because they sell cheaper than
you. And why do they sell cheaper than you? Because they have a certain
degree of superiority over you as manufacturers.

Between you and a Belgian, therefore, there is exactly the same
difference as in my trade there would be between a blunt and a sharp

And you force me, as a tradesman, to purchase from you the product of
the blunt hatchet?

Regard the country at large as a workman who desires, by his labour, to
procure all things he has want of, and, among others, cloth.

There are two means of effecting this.

The first is to spin and weave the wool.

The second is to produce other articles, as, for example, French clocks,
paper-hangings, or wines, and exchange them with the Belgians for the
cloth wanted.

Of these two processes, the one which gives the best result may be
represented by the sharp axe, and the other by the blunt one.

You do not deny that at present, in France, we obtain a piece of stuff
by the work of our own looms (that is the blunt axe) _with more labour_
than by producing and exchanging wines (that is the sharp axe). So far
are you from denying this, that it is precisely because of this _excess
of labour_ (in which you make wealth to consist) that you recommend,
nay, that you _compel_ the employment of the worse of the two hatchets.

Now, only be consistent, be impartial, and if you mean to be just, treat
the poor carpenters as you treat yourselves.

Pass a law to this effect:

"_No one shall henceforth be permitted to employ any beams or rafters,
but such as are produced and fashioned by blunt hatchets_."

And see what will immediately happen.

Whereas at present we give a hundred blows of the axe, we shall then
give three hundred. The work which we now do in an hour will then
require three hours. What a powerful encouragement will thus be given to
labour! Masters, journeymen, apprentices! our sufferings are now at an
end. We shall be in demand; and, therefore, well paid. Whoever shall
henceforth desire to have a roof to cover him must comply with our
exactions, just as at present whoever desires clothes to his back must
comply with yours.

And should the theoretical advocates of free trade ever dare to call
in question the utility of the measure, we know well where to seek for
reasons to confute them Your Inquiry of 1834 is still to be had. With
that weapon, we shall conquer; for you have there admirably pleaded the
cause of restriction, and of blunt axes, which are in reality the same


"What! you have the face to demand for all citizens a right to sell,
buy, barter, and exchange; to render and receive service for service,
and to judge for themselves, on the single condition that they do all
honestly, and comply with the demands of the public treasury? Then you
simply desire to deprive our workmen of employment, of wages, and of

This is what is said to us. I know very well what to think of it; but
what I wish to know is, what the workmen themselves think of it.

I have at hand an excellent instrument of inquiry. Not those Upper
Councils of Industry, where extensive proprietors who call themselves
labourers, rich shipowners who call themselves sailors, and wealthy
shareholders who pass themselves off for workmen, turn their
philanthropy to account in a way which we all know.

No; it is with workmen, who are workmen in reality, that we have
to do--joiners, carpenters, masons, tailors, shoemakers, dyers,
blacksmiths, innkeepers, grocers, etc., etc.,--and who, in my village,
have founded a friendly society.

I have transformed this friendly society, at my own hand, into a Lower
Council of Labour, and instituted an inquiry which will be found of
great importance, although it is not crammed with figures, or inflated
to the bulk of a quarto volume, printed at the expense of the State.

My object was to interrogate these plain, simple people as to the manner
in which they are, or believe themselves to be, affected by the policy
of protection. The president pointed out that this would be infringing
to some extent on the fundamental conditions of the Association. For in
France, this land of liberty, people who associate give up their right
to talk politics--in other words, their right to discuss their common
interests. However, after some hesitation, he agreed to include the
question in the order of the day.

They divided the assembly into as many committees as there were groups
of distinct trades, and delivered to each committee a schedule to be
filled up after fifteen days' deliberation.

On the day fixed, the worthy president (we adopt the official style)
took the chair, and there were laid upon the table (still the official
style) fifteen reports, which he read in succession.

The first which was taken into consideration was that of the tailors.
Here is an exact and literal copy of it:--



1st, In consequence of the policy of protection, we pay dearer for
bread, meat, sugar, firewood, thread, needles, etc., which is equivalent
in our case to a considerable reduction of wages.

2d, In consequence of the policy of 'protection, our customers also pay
dearer for everything, and this leaves them less to spend upon clothing;
whence it follows that we have less employment, and, consequently,
smaller returns.

3d, In consequence of the policy of protection, the stuffs which we make
up are dear, and people on that account wear their clothes longer, or
dispense with part of them. This, again, is equivalent to a diminution
of employment, and forces us to offer our services at a lower rate of



Note.--After all our inquiries, deliberations, and discussions, we have
been quite unable to discover that in any respect whatever the policy of
protection has been of advantage to our trade.

Here is another report:--



1st, The policy of protection imposes a tax upon us every time we eat,
drink, or warm or clothe ourselves, and this tax does not go to the

2d, It imposes a like tax upon all our fellow-citizens who are not of
our trade, and they, being so much the poorer, have recourse to cheap
substitutes for our work, which deprives us of the employment we should
otherwise have had. None.

3d, It keeps up iron at so high a price, that it is not employed in
the country for ploughs, grates, gates, balconies, etc.; and our trade,
which might furnish employment to so many other people who are in want
of it, no longer furnishes employment to ourselves.

4th, The revenue which the treasury fails to obtain from commodities
which are not imported is levied upon the salt we use, postages, etc.

All the other reports (with which it is unnecessary to trouble the
reader) are to the same tune. Gardeners, carpenters, shoemakers,
clogmakers, boatmen, millers, all give vent to the same complaints.

I regret that there are no agricultural labourers in our association.
Their report would assuredly have been very instructive.

But, alas! in our country of the Landes, the poor labourers, protected
though they be, have not the means of joining an association, and,
having insured their cattle, they find they cannot themselves become
members of a friendly society. The boon of protection does not hinder
them from being the parias of our social order. What shall I say of the

What I remark, especially, is the good sense displayed by our villagers
in perceiving not only the direct injury which the policy of protection
does them, but the indirect injury, which, although in the first
instance affecting their customers, falls back, _par ricochet_, upon

This is what the economists of the _Moniteur Industriel_ do not appear
to understand.

And perhaps those men whose eyes a dash of protection has fascinated,
especially our agriculturists, would be willing to give it up, if they
were enabled to see this side of the question.

In that case they might perhaps say to themselves, "Better far to be
self-supported in the midst of a set of customers in easy circumstances,
than to be protected in the midst of an impoverished clientèle."

For to desire to enrich by turns each separate branch of industry by
creating a void round each in succession, is as vain an attempt as it
would be for a man to try to leap over his own shadow.


I think it necessary to submit to the reader some theoretical remarks
on the illusions to which the words dearness and cheapness give rise. At
first sight, these remarks may, I feel, be regarded as subtle, but the
question is not whether they are subtle or the reverse, but whether they
are true. Now, I not only believe them to be perfectly true, but to be
well fitted to suggest matter of reflection to men (of whom there are
not a few) who have sincere faith in the efficacy of a protectionist

The advocates of Liberty and the defenders of Restriction are both
obliged to employ the expressions, dearness, cheapness. The former
declare themselves in favour of cheapness with a view to the interest of
the consumer; the latter pronounce in favour of dearness, having regard
especially to the interest of the producer. Others content themselves
with saying, The producer and consumer are one and the same person;
which leaves undecided the question whether the law should promote
cheapness or dearness.

In the midst of this conflict, it would seem that the law has only
one course to follow, and that is to allow prices to settle and adjust
themselves naturally. But then we are attacked by the bitter enemies of
_laissez faire_. At all hazards they want the law to interfere, without
knowing or caring in what direction. And yet it lies with those who
desire to create by legal intervention an artificial dearness or an
unnatural cheapness, to explain the grounds of their preference. The
_onus probandi_ rests upon them exclusively. Liberty is always esteemed
good, till the contrary is proved; and to allow prices to settle and
adjust themselves naturally, is liberty.

But the parties to this dispute have changed positions. The advocates of
dearness have secured the triumph of their system, and it lies with the
defenders of natural prices to prove the goodness of their cause. On
both sides, the argument turns on two words; and it is therefore very
essential to ascertain what these two words really mean.

But we must first of all notice a series of facts which are fitted to
disconcert the champions of both camps.

To engender dearness, the restrictionists have obtained protective
duties, and a cheapness, which is to them inexplicable, has come to
deceive their hopes.

To create cheapness, the free-traders have occasionally succeeded in
securing liberty, and, to their astonishment, an elevation of prices has
been the consequence.

For example, in France, in order to favour agriculture, a duty of 22 per
cent has been imposed on foreign wool, and it has turned out that French
wool has been sold at a lower price after the measure than before it.

In England, to satisfy the consumer, they lowered, and ultimately
removed, the duty on foreign wool; and it has come to pass that in that
country the price of wool is higher than ever.

And these are not isolated facts; for the price of wool is governed by
precisely the same laws which govern the price of everything else. The
same result is produced in all analogous cases. Contrary to expectation,
protection has, to some extent, brought about a fall, and competition,
to some extent, a rise of prices.

When the confusion of ideas thence arising had reached its height, the
protectionists began saying to their adversaries, "It is our system
which brings about the cheapness of which you boast so much." To which
the reply was, "It is liberty which has induced the dearness which you
find so useful."*

At this rate, would it not be amusing to see cheapness become the
watch-word of the Rue Hauteville, and dearness the watchword of the Rue

Evidently there is in all this a misconception, an illusion, which it is
necessary to clear up; and this is what I shall now endeavour to do.

Put the case of two isolated nations, each composed of a million of
inhabitants. Grant that, _coteris paribus_, the one possesses double
the quantity of everything,--corn, meat, iron, furniture, fuel, books,
clothing, etc.,--which the other possesses.

It will be granted that the one is twice as rich as the other.

And yet there is no reason to affirm that a difference in _actual money
prices_** exists in the two countries. Nominal prices may perhaps
be higher in the richer country. It may be that in the United States
everything is nominally dearer than in Poland, and that the population
of the former country should, nevertheless, be better provided with
all that they need; whence we infer that it is not the nominal price
of products, but their comparative abundance, which constitutes wealth.
When, then, we desire to pronounce an opinion on the comparative merits
of restriction and free-trade, we should not inquire which of the two
systems engenders dearness or cheapness, but which of the two brings
abundance or scarcity.

     * Recently, M. Duchâtel, who had formerly advocated free
     trade, with a view to low prices, said to the Chamber: It
     would not be difficult for me to prove that protection leads
     to cheapness.

     **The expression, _prix absolus_ (absolute prices), which
     the author employs here and in chap. xi. of the First Series
     (ante), is not, I think, used by English economists, and
     from the context in both instances I take it to mean _actual
     money prices;_ or what Adam Smith terms _nominal prices_,--

For, observe this, that products being exchanged for each other, a
relative scarcity of all, and a relative abundance of all, leave the
nominal prices of commodities in general at the same point; but this
cannot be affirmed of the relative condition of the inhabitants of the
two countries.

Let us dip a little deeper still into this subject.

When we see an increase and a reduction of duties produce effects
so different from what we had expected, depreciation often following
taxation, and enhancement following free trade, it becomes the
imperative duty of political economy to seek an explanation of phenomena
so much opposed to received ideas; for it is needless to say that a
science, if it is worthy of the name, is nothing else than a faithful
statement and a sound explanation of facts.

Now the phenomenon we are here examining is explained very
satisfactorily by a circumstance of which we must never lose sight.

Dearness is due to two causes, and not to one only.

The same thing holds of cheapness.

It is one of the least disputed points in political economy that price
is determined by the relative state of supply and demand.

There are then two terms which affect price--supply and demand. These
terms are essentially variable. They may be combined in the same
direction, in contrary directions, and in infinitely varied proportions.
Hence the combinations of which price is the result are inexhaustible.

High price may be the result, either of diminished supply, or of
increased demand.

Low price may be the result of increased supply, or of diminished

Hence there are two kinds of dearness, and two kinds of cheapness.

There is a _dearness_ of an injurious kind, that which proceeds from a
diminution of supply, for that implies scarcity, privation (such as has
been felt this year* from the scarcity of corn); and there is a dearness
of a beneficial kind, that which results from an increase of demand, for
the latter presupposes the development of general wealth.

     * This was written in 1847.--Translator.

In the same way, there is a _cheapness_ which is desirable, that which
has its source in abundance; and an injurious cheapness, that has for
its cause the failure of demand, and the impoverishment of consumers.

Now, be pleased to remark this; that restriction tends to induce, at the
same time, both the injurious cause of dearness, and the injurious cause
of cheapness: injurious dearness, by diminishing the supply, for this
is the avowed object of restriction; and injurious cheapness, by
diminishing also the demand; seeing that it gives a false direction to
labour and capital, and fetters consumers with taxes and trammels.

So that, as regards price, these two tendencies neutralize each other;
and this is the reason why the restrictive system, restraining, as it
does, demand and supply at one and the same time, does not in the long
run realize even that dearness which is its object.

But, as regards the condition of the population, these causes do not
at all neutralize each other; on the contrary, they concur in making it

The effect of freedom of trade is exactly the opposite. In its general
result, it may be that it does not realize the cheapness it promises;
for it has two tendencies, one towards desirable cheapness through
the extension of supply, or abundance; the other towards appreciable
dearness by the development of demand, or general wealth. These two
tendencies neutralize each other in what concerns nominal price, but
they concur in what regards the material prosperity of the population.

In short, under the restrictive system, in as far as it is operative,
men recede towards a state of things, in which both demand and supply
are enfeebled. Under a system of freedom, they progress towards a
state of things in which both are developed simultaneously, and without
necessarily affecting nominal prices. Such prices form no good criterion
of wealth. They may remain the same whilst society is falling into a
state of the most abject poverty, or whilst it is advancing towards a
state of the greatest prosperity.

We shall now, in a few words, show the practical application of this

A cultivator of the south of France believes himself to be very rich,
because he is protected by duties from external competition. He may be
as poor as Job; but he nevertheless imagines that sooner or later he
will get rich by protection. In these circumstances, if we ask him the
question which was put by the Odier Committee in these words,--

"Do you desire--yes or no--to be subject to foreign competition?" His
first impulse is to answer "No," and the Odier Committee proudly welcome
his response.

However, we must go a little deeper into the matter. Unquestionably,
foreign competition--nay, competition in general--is always
troublesome; and if one branch of trade alone could get quit of it, that
branch of trade would for some time profit largely.

But protection is not an isolated favour; it is a system. If, to the
profit of the agriculturist, protection tends to create a scarcity of
corn and of meat, it tends likewise to create, to the profit of other
industries, a scarcity of iron, of cloth, of fuel, tools, etc.,--a
scarcity, in short, of everything.

Now, if a scarcity of corn tends to enhance its price through a
diminution of supply, the scarcity of all other commodities for which
corn is exchanged tends to reduce the price of corn by a diminution of
demand, so that it is not at all certain that ultimately corn will be a
penny dearer than it would have been under a system of free trade. There
is nothing certain in the whole process but this--that as there is upon
the whole less of every commodity in the country, each man will be less
plentifully provided with everything he has occasion to buy.

The agriculturist should ask himself whether it would not be more
for his interest that a certain quantity of corn and cattle should be
imported from abroad, and that he should at the same time find himself
surrounded by a population in easy circumstances, able and willing to
consume and pay for all sorts of agricultural produce.

Suppose a department in which the people are clothed in rags, fed upon
chesnuts, and lodged in hovels. How can agriculture flourish in such
a locality? What can the soil be made to produce with a well-founded
expectation of fair remuneration? Meat? The people do not eat it. Milk?
They must content themselves with water. Butter? It is regarded as a
luxury. Wool? The use of it is dispensed with as much as possible. Does
any one imagine that all the ordinary objects of consumption can thus be
put beyond the reach of the masses, without tending to lower prices as
much as protection is tending to raise them?

What has been said of the agriculturist holds equally true of the
manufacturer. Our manufacturers of cloth assure us that external
competition will lower prices by increasing the supply. Granted; but
will not these prices be again raised by an increased demand? Is the
consumption of cloth a fixed and invariable quantity? Has every man as
much of it as he would wish to have? And if general wealth is advanced
and developed by the abolition of all these taxes and restrictions, will
the first use to which this emancipation is turned by the population not
be to dress better?

The question,--the constantly-recurring question,--then, is not to
find out whether protection is favourable to any one special branch of
industry, but whether, when everything is weighed, balanced, and taken
into account, restriction is, in its own nature, more productive than

Now, no one will venture to maintain this. On the contrary, we are
perpetually met with the admission, "You are right in principle."

If it be so, if restriction confers no benefit on individual branches of
industry without doing a greater amount of injury to general wealth,
we are forced to conclude that actual money prices, considered by
themselves, only express a relation between each special branch of
industry and industry in general, between supply and demand; and that,
on this account, a remunerative price, which is the professed object of
protection, is rather injured than favoured by the system.


     * What follows appeared in the _Libre Échange_ of 1st August

The article which we have published under the title of Dearness,
Cheapness, has brought us several letters. We give them, along with our

Mr Editor,--You upset all our ideas. I endeavoured to aid the cause
of free trade, and found it necessary to urge the consideration of
cheapness. I went about everywhere, saying, "When freedom of trade is
accorded, bread, meat, cloth, linen, iron, fuel, will go on falling in
price." This displeased those who sell, but gave great pleasure to those
who buy these commodities. And now you throw out doubts as to whether
free trade will bring us cheapness or not. What, then, is to be gained
by it? What gain will it be to the people if foreign competition, which
may damage their sales, does not benefit them in their purchases?

Mr Free-trader,--Allow us to tell you that you must have read only half
the article which has called forth your letter. We said that free trade
acts exactly in the same way as roads, canals, railways, and everything
else which facilitates communication by removing obstacles. Its first
tendency is to increase the supply of the commodity freed from duty, and
consequently to lower its price. But by augmenting at the same time the
supply of all other commodities for which this article is exchanged, it
increases the demand, and the price by this means rises again. You ask
what gain this would be to the people? Suppose a balance with several
scales, in each of which is deposited a certain quantity of the articles
you have enumerated. If you add to the corn in one scale it will tend
to fall; but if you add a little cloth, a little iron, a little fuel,
to what the other scales contained, you will redress the equilibrium.
If you look only at the beam, you will find nothing changed. But if you
look at the people for whose use these articles are produced, you will
find them better fed, clothed, and warmed.

Mr Editor,--I am a manufacturer of cloth, and a protectionist. I confess
that your article on dearness and cheapness has made me reflect. It
contains something specious which would require to be well established
before we declare ourselves converted.

Mr Protectionist,--We say that your restrictive measures have an
iniquitous object in view, namely, artificial dearness. But we do not
affirm that they always realize the hopes of those who promote them.
It is certain that they inflict on the consumer all the injurious
consequences of scarcity. It is not certain that they always confer a
corresponding advantage on the producer. Why? Because if they diminish
the supply, they diminish also the demand.

This proves that there is in the economic arrangement of this world a
moral force, a _vis medieatrix_, which causes unjust ambition in the
long run to fall a prey to self-deception.

Would you have the goodness, Sir, to remark that one of the elements
of the prosperity of each individual branch of industry is the
general wealth of the community. The value of a house is not always in
proportion to what it has cost, but likewise in proportion to the number
and fortune of the tenants. Are two houses exactly similar necessarily
of the same value? By no means, if the one is situated in Paris and
the other in Lower Brittany. Never speak of price without taking into
account collateral circumstances, and let it be remembered that no
attempt is so bootless as to endeavour to found the prosperity of parts
on the ruin of the whole. And yet this is what the policy of restriction
pretends to do.

Consider what would have happened at Paris, for example, if this strife
of interests had been attended with success.

Suppose that the first shoemaker who established himself in that city
had succeeded in ejecting all others; that the first tailor, the first
mason, the first printer, the first watchmaker, the first physician,
the first baker, had been equally successful. Paris would at this moment
have been still a village of 1200 or 1500 inhabitants. It has turned out
very differently. The market of Paris has been open to all (excepting
those whom you still keep out), and it is this freedom which has
enlarged and aggrandized it. The struggles of competition have been
bitter and long continued, and this is what has made Paris a city of a
million of inhabitants. The general wealth has increased, no doubt; but
has the individual wealth of the shoemakers and tailors been diminished?
This is the question you have to ask. You may say that according as the
number of competitors increased, the price of their products would go on
falling. Has it done so? No; for if the supply has been augmented, the
demand has been enlarged.

The same thing will hold good of your commodity, cloth; let it enter
freely. You will have more competitors in the trade, it is true; but
you will have more customers, and, above all, richer customers. Is it
possible you can never have thought of this, when you see nine-tenths of
your fellow-citizens underclothed in winter, for want of the commodity
which you manufacture?

If you wish to prosper, allow your customers to thrive. This is a
lesson which you have* been very long in learning. When it is thoroughly
learnt, each man will seek his own interest in the general good;
and then jealousies between man and man, town and town, province and
province, nation and nation, will no longer trouble the world.


Many journals have attacked me in your presence and hearing. Perhaps you
will not object to read my defence?

I am not suspicious. When a man writes or speaks, I take for granted
that he believes what he says.

And yet, after reading and re-reading the journals to which I now reply,
I seem unable to discover any other than melancholy tendencies.

Our present business is to inquire which is more favourable to your
interests,--liberty or restriction.

I believe that it is liberty,--they believe that it is restriction. It
is for each party to prove his own thesis.

Was it necessary to insinuate that we free-traders are the agents of
England, of the south of France, of the government?

On this point, you see how easy recrimination would be.

We are the agents of England, they say, because some of us employ the
words meeting and free-trader!

And do they not make use of the words drawback and budget?

We, it would seem, imitate Cobden and the English democracy!

And do they not parody Lord George Bentinck and the British aristocracy?

We borrow from perfidious Albion the doctrine of liberty!

And do they not borrow from the same source the quibbles of protection?

We follow the lead of Bordeaux and the south!

And do they not avail themselves of the cupidity of Lille and the north?

We favour the secret designs of the ministry, whose object is to divert
public attention from their real policy!

And do they not act in the interest of the civil list, which profits
most of all from the policy of protection?

You see, then, very clearly, that if we did not despise this war of
disparagement, arms would not be wanting to carry it on. But this is
beside the question.

The question, and we must never lose sight of it, is this: _Whether
is it better for the working classes to be free, or not to be free to
purchase foreign commodities?_

Workmen! they tell you that "If you are free to purchase from the
foreigner those things which you now produce yourselves, you will cease
to produce them; you will be without employment, without wages, and
without bread; it is therefore for your own good to restrain your

This objection returns upon us under two forms:--They say, for example,
"If we clothe ourselves with English cloth; if we make our ploughs of
English iron; if we cut our bread with English knives; if we wipe our
hands with English towels,--what will become of French workmen, what
will become of national labour?"

Tell me, workmen! if a man should stand on the quay at Boulogne, and
say to every Englishman who landed, "If you will give me these English
boots, I will give you this French hat;" or, "If you will give me that
English horse, I will give you this French tilbury;" or ask him, "Will
you exchange that machine made at Birmingham, for this clock made
at Paris?" or, again, "Can you arrange to barter this Newcastle coal
against this champagne wine?" Tell me whether, assuming this man to make
his proposals with discernment, any one would be justified in saying
that our national labour, taken in the aggregate, would suffer in

Nor would it make the slightest difference in this respect were we to
suppose twenty such offers to be made in place of one, or a million such
barters to be effected in place of four; nor would it in any respect
alter the case were we to assume the intervention of merchants and
money, whereby such transactions would be greatly facilitated and

Now, when one country buys from another wholesale, to sell again in
retail, or buys in retail, to sell again in the lump, if we trace the
transaction to its ultimate results, we shall always find that _commerce
resolves itself into barter, products for products, services for
services. If, then, barter does no injury to national labour, since it
implies as much national labour given as foreign labour received, it
follows that a hundred thousand millions of such acts of barter would do
as little injury as one_.

But who would profit? you will ask. The profit consists in turning to
most account the resources of each country, so that the same amount
of labour shall yield everywhere a greater amount of satisfactions and

There are some who in your case have recourse to a singular system of
tactics. They begin by admitting the superiority of the free to the
prohibitive system, in order, doubtless, not to have the battle to fight
on this ground.

Then they remark that the transition from one system to another is
always attended with some displacement of labour.

Lastly, they enlarge on the sufferings, which, in their opinion, such
displacements must always entail. They exaggerate these sufferings, they
multiply them, they make them the principal subject of discussion, they
present them as the exclusive and definitive result of reform, and in
this way they endeavour to enlist you under the banners of monopoly.

This is just the system of tactics which has been employed to defend
every system of abuse; and one thing I must plainly avow, that it is
this system of tactics which constantly embarrasses those who advocate
reforms, even those most useful to the people. You will soon see the
reason of this.

When an abuse has once taken root, everything is arranged on the
assumption of its continuance. Some men depend upon it for subsistence,
others depend upon them, and so on, till a formidable edifice is

Would you venture to pull it down? All cry out, and remark this--the men
who bawl out appear always at first sight to be in the right, because
it is far easier to show the derangements which must accompany a reform
than the arrangements which must follow it.

The supporters of abuses cite particular instances of sufferings; they
point out particular employers who, with their workmen, and the people
who supply them with materials, are about to be injured; and the poor
reformer can only refer to the general good which must gradually diffuse
itself over the masses. That by no means produces the same sensation.

Thus, when the question turns on the abolition of slavery. "Poor men!"
is the language addressed to the negroes, "who is henceforth to support
you. The manager handles the lash, but he likewise distributes the

The slaves regret to part with their chains, for they ask themselves,
"Whence will come the cassava?"

They fail to see that it is not the manager who feeds them, but their
own labour--which feeds both them and the manager.

When they set about reforming the convents in Spain, they asked the
beggars, "Where will you now find food and clothing? The prior is your
best friend. Is it not very convenient to be in a situation to address
yourselves to him?"

And the mendicants replied, "True; if the prior goes away, we see very
clearly that we shall be losers, and we do not see at all so clearly who
is to come in his place."

They did not take into account that if the convents bestowed alms,
they lived upon them; so that the nation had more to give away than to

In the same way, workmen! monopoly, quite imperceptibly, saddles
you with taxes, and then, with the produce of these taxes, finds you

And your sham friends exclaim, "But for monopolies, where would you find

And you, like the Spanish beggars, reply, "True, true; the employment
which the monopolists find us is certain. The promises of liberty are of
uncertain fulfilment."

For you do not see that they take from you in the first instance the
money with part of which they afterwards afford you employment.

You ask, Who is to find you employment? And the answer is, that you will
give employment to one another! With the money of which he is no
longer deprived by taxation, the shoemaker will dress better, and give
employment to the tailor. The tailor will more frequently renew his
_chaussure_, and afford employment to the shoemaker; and the same thing
will take place in all other departments of trade.

It has been said that under a system of free trade we should have fewer
workmen in our mines and spinning-mills.

I do not think so. But if this happened, we should necessarily have a
greater number of people working freely and independently, either in
their own houses or at out-door employment.

For if our mines and spinning-factories are not capable of supporting
themselves, as is asserted, without the aid of taxes levied from the
_public at large_, the moment these taxes are repealed _everybody_ will
be by so much in better circumstances; and it is this improvement in the
general circumstances of the community which lends support to individual
branches of industry.

Pardon my dwelling a little longer on this view of the subject; for my
great anxiety is to see you all ranged on the side of liberty.

Suppose that the capital employed in manufactures yields 5 per cent,
profit. But Mondor has an establishment in which he employs £100,000,
at a loss, instead of a profit, of 5 per cent. Between the loss and
the gain supposed there is a difference of £10,000. What takes place? A
small tax of £10,000 is coolly levied from the public, and handed over
to Mondor. You don't see it, for the thing is skilfully disguised. It
is not the tax-gatherer who waits upon you to demand your share of this
burden; but you pay it to Mondor, the ironmaster, every time that you
purchase your trowels, hatchets, and planes. Then they tell you that
unless you pay this tax, Mondor will not be able to give employment; and
his workmen, James and John, must go without work. And yet, if they
gave up the tax, it would enable you to find employment for one another,
independently of Mondor.

And then, with a little patience, after this smooth pillow of protection
has been taken from under his head, Mondor, you may depend upon it, will
set his wits to work, and contrive to convert his loss into a profit,
and James and John will not be sent away, in which case there will be
profit for everybody.

You may still rejoin, "We allow that, after the reform, there will be
more employment, upon the whole, than before; in the meantime, James and
John are starving."

To which I reply:

1st, That when labour is only displaced, to be augmented, a man who has
a head and hands is seldom left long in a state of destitution.

2d, There is nothing to hinder the State's reserving a fund to meet,
during the transition, any temporary want of employment, in which,
however, for my own part, I do not believe.

3d, If I do not misunderstand the workmen, they are quite prepared to
encounter any temporary suffering necessarily attendant on a transfer of
labour from one department to another, by which the community are more
likely to be benefited and have justice done them. I only wish I could
say the same thing of their employers!

What! will it be said that because you are workmen you are for that
reason unintelligent and immoral? Your pretended friends seem to think
so. Is it not surprising that in your hearing they should discuss such
a question, talking exclusively of wages and profits without ever once
allowing the word justice to pass their lips? And yet they know that
restriction is unjust. Why have they not the courage to admit it, and
say to you, "Workmen! an iniquity prevails in this country, but it is
profitable to you, and we must maintain it." Why? because they know you
would disclaim it.

It is not true that this injustice is profitable to you. Give me your
attention for a few moments longer, and then judge for yourselves.

What is it that we protect in France? Things which are produced on a
great scale by rich capitalists and in large establishments, as iron,
coal, cloth, and textile fabrics; and they tell you that this is done,
not in the interest of employers, but in yours, and in order to secure
you employment.

And yet whenever _foreign labour_ presents itself in our markets, in
such a shape that it may be injurious to you, but advantageous for your
employers, it is allowed to enter without any restriction being imposed.

Are there not in Paris thirty thousand Germans who make clothes and
shoes? Why are they permitted to establish themselves alongside of
you while the importation of cloth is restricted? Because cloth is
manufactured in grand establishments which belong to manufacturing
legislators. But clothes are made by workmen in their own houses.
In converting wool into cloth, these gentlemen desire to have no
competition, because that is their trade; but in converting cloth into
coats, they allow it, because that is your trade.

In making our railways, an embargo was laid on English rails, but
English workmen were brought over. Why was this? Simply because
English rails came into competition with the iron produced in our great
establishments, while the English labourers were only your rivals.

We have no wish that German tailors and English navvies should be kept
out of France. What we ask is, that the entry of cloth and rails should
be left free. We simply demand justice and equality before the law, for

It is a mockery to tell us that customs restrictions are imposed for
your benefit. Tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, masons, blacksmiths,
shopkeepers, grocers, watchmakers, butchers, bakers, dressmakers! I defy
you all to point out a single way in which restriction is profitable to
you, and I shall point out, whenever you desire it, four ways in which
it is hurtful to you.

And, after all, see how little foundation your journalists have for
attributing self-abnegation to the monopolists.

I may venture to denominate the rate of wages which settles and
establishes itself naturally under a regime of freedom, the _natural
rate of wages_. When you affirm, therefore, that restriction is
profitable to you, it is tantamount to affirming that it adds an
_overplus to your natural_ wages. Now, a surplus of wages beyond the
natural rate must come from some quarter or other; it does not fall from
the skies, but comes from those who pay it.

You are landed, then, in this conclusion by your pretended friends, that
the policy of protection has been introduced in order that the interests
of capitalists should be sacrificed to those of the workmen.

Do you think this probable?

Where is your place, then, in the Chamber of Peers? When did you take
your seat in the Palais Bourbon? Who has consulted you? And where did
this idea of establishing a policy of protection take its rise?

I think I hear you answer, "It is not we who have established it.
Alas! we are neither Peers, nor Deputies, nor Councillors of State. The
capitalists have done it all."

Verily, they must have been in a good humour that day! What! these
capitalists have made the law; they have established a policy of
prohibition for the express purpose of enabling you to profit at their

But here is something stranger still.

How does it come to pass that your pretended friends, who hold forth
to you on the goodness, the generosity, and the self-abnegation of
capitalists, never cease condoling with you on your being deprived of
your political rights? From their point of view, I would ask what
you could make of such rights if you had them? The capitalists have a
monopoly of legislation;--granted. By means of this monopoly, they have
adjudged themselves a monopoly of iron, of cloth, of textile fabrics, of
coal, of wood, of meat,--granted likewise. But here are your pretended
friends, who tell you that in acting thus, capitalists have impoverished
themselves, without being under any obligation to do so, in order to
enrich you who have no right to be enriched! Assuredly, if you were
electors and deputies tomorrow, you could not manage your affairs better
than they are managed for you; you could not manage them so well.

If the industrial legislation under which you live is intended for your
profit, it is an act of perfidy to demand for you political rights; for
these new-fashioned democrats never can get quit of this dilemma--the
law made by the bourgeoisie either gives you more, or it gives you less
than your natural wages. If that law gives you less, they deceive you,
in soliciting you to maintain it. If it gives you more, they still
deceive you, by inviting you to demand political rights at the very time
when the bourgeoisie are making sacrifices for you, which, in common
honesty, you could not by your votes exact, even if you had the power.

Workmen! I should be sorry indeed if this address should excite in your
minds feelings of irritation against the rich. If self-interest, ill
understood, or too apt to be alarmed, still maintains monopoly, let us
not forget that monopoly has its root in errors which are common to both
capitalists and labourers.

Instead of exciting the one class against the other, let us try to bring
them together. And for that end what ought we to do? If it be true that
the natural social tendencies concur in levelling inequalities among
men, we have only to allow these tendencies to act, remove artificial
obstructions which retard their operation, and allow the relations
of the various classes of society to be established on principles of
Justice--principles always mixed up, in my mind at least, with the
principle of Liberty.


We hear a great outcry against the cupidity and the egotism of the age!

For my own part, I see the world, Paris especially, peopled with

Open the thousand volumes, the thousand newspapers of all sorts
and sizes, which the Parisian press vomits forth every day on the
country--are they not all the work of minor saints?

How vividly they depict the vices of the times! How touching the
tenderness they display for the masses! How liberally they invite the
rich to share with the poor, if not the poor to share with the rich!
How many plans of social reforms, social ameliorations, and social
organizations! What shallow writer fails to devote himself to the
wellbeing of the working classes? We have only to contribute a few
shillings to procure them leisure to deliver themselves up to their
humane lucubrations.

And then they declare against the egotism and individualism of our age!

There is nothing which they do not pretend to enlist in the service
of the working classes--there is positively no exception, not even
the Customhouse. You fancy, perhaps, that the Customhouse is merely an
instrument of taxation, like the _octroi_ or the toll-bar? Nothing of
the kind. It is essentially an institution for promoting the march of
civilization, fraternity, and equality. What would you be at? It is
the fashion to introduce, or affect to introduce, sentiment and
sentimentalism everywhere, even into the toll-gatherer's booth.

The Customhouse, we must allow, has a very singular machinery for
realizing philanthropical aspirations.

It includes an army of directors, sub-directors, inspectors,
sub-inspectors, comptrollers, examiners, heads of departments, clerks,
supernumeraries, aspirant-supernumeraries, not to speak of the officers
of the active service; and the object of all this complicated machinery
is to exercise over the industry of the people a negative action, which
is summed up in the word obstruct.

Observe, I do not say that the object is to tax, but to obstruct. To
prevent, not acts which are repugnant to good morals or public order,
but transactions which are in themselves not only harmless, but fitted
to maintain peace and union among nations.

And yet the human race is so flexible and elastic that it always
surmounts these obstructions. And then we hear of the labour market
being glutted.

If you hinder a people from obtaining its subsistence from abroad, it
will produce it at home. The labour is greater and more painful, but
subsistence must be had. If you hinder a man from traversing the valley,
he must cross the hills. The road is longer and more difficult, but he
must get to his journey's end.

This is lamentable, but we come now to what is ludicrous. When the law
has thus created obstacles, and when, in order to overcome them, society
has diverted a corresponding amount of labour from other employments,
you are no longer permitted to demand a reform. If you point to the
obstacle, you are told of the amount of labour to which it has given
employment. And if you rejoin that this labour is not created, but
displaced, you are answered, in the words of the _Esprit Public_, "The
impoverishment alone is certain and immediate; as to our enrichment, it
is more than problematical."

This reminds me of a Chinese story, which I shall relate to you.

There were in China two large towns, called _Tchin_ and _Tchan_.

A magnificent canal united them. The Emperor thought fit to order
enormous blocks of stone to be thrown into it, for the purpose of
rendering it useless.

On seeing this, Kouang, his first mandarin, said to him:

"Son of Heaven! this is a mistake."

To which the Emperor replied:

"Kouang! you talk nonsense."

I give you only the substance of their conversation.

At the end of three months, the Celestial Emperor sent again for the
mandarin, and said to him:

"Kouang, behold!"

And Kouang opened his eyes, and looked.

And he saw at some distance from the canal a multitude of men at work.
Some were excavating, others were filling up hollows, levelling, and
paving; and the mandarin, who was very knowing, said to himself, They
are making a highway.

When other three months had elapsed, the Emperor again sent for Kouang,
and said to him:


And Kouang looked.

And he saw the road completed, and from one end of it to the other he
saw here and there inns for travellers erected. Crowds of pedestrians,
carts, palanquins, came and went, and innumerable Chinese, overcome
with fatigue, carried backwards and forwards heavy burdens from Tchin
to Tchan, and from Tchan to Tchin; and Kouang said to himself, It is the
destruction of the canal which gives employment to these poor people.
But the idea never struck him that their labour was simply _diverted
from other employments_.

Three months more passed, and the Emperor said to Kouang: "Look!"

And Kouang looked.

And he saw that the hostelries were full of travellers, and that to
supply their wants there were grouped around them butchers' and bakers'
stalls, shops for the sale of edible birds' nests, etc. He also saw
that, the artisans having need of clothing, there had settled among them
tailors, shoemakers, and those who sold parasols and fans; and as they
could not sleep in the open air, even in the Celestial Empire, there
were also masons, carpenters, and slaters. Then there were officers of
police, judges, fakirs; in a word, a town with its faubourgs had risen
round each hostelry.

And the Emperor asked Kouang what he thought of all this. And Kouang
said that he never could have imagined that the destruction of a canal
could have provided employment for so many people; for the thought never
struck him that this was not employment created, but _labour diverted_
from other employments, and that men would have eaten and drank in
passing along the canal as well as in passing along the highroad.

However, to the astonishment of the Chinese, the Son of Heaven at length
died and was buried.

His successor sent for Kouang, and ordered him to have the canal cleared
out and restored.

And Kouang said to the new Emperor:

"Son of Heaven! you commit a blunder."

And the Emperor replied:

"Kouang, you talk nonsense."

But Kouang persisted, and said: "Sire, what is your object?"

"My object is to facilitate the transit of goods and passengers between
Tchin and Tchan, to render carriage less expensive, in order that the
people may have tea and clothing cheaper."

But Kouang was ready with his answer. He had received the night before
several numbers of the Moniteur Industriel, a Chinese newspaper. Knowing
his lesson well, he asked and obtained permission to reply, and after
having prostrated himself nine times, he said:

"Sire, your object is, by increased facility of transit, to reduce the
price of articles of consumption, and bring them within reach of the
people; and to effect that, you begin by taking away from them all the
employment to which the destruction of the canal had given rise. Sire,
in political economy, nominal cheapness-" _The Emperor_: "I believe you
are repeating by rote." _Kouang_: "True, Sire; and it will be better to
read what I have to say." So, producing the _Esprit Public_, he read
as follows: "In political economy, the nominal cheapness of articles of
consumption is only a secondary question. The problem is to establish
an equilibrium between the price of labour and that of the means of
subsistence. The abundance of labour constitutes the wealth of nations;
and the best economic system is that which supplies the people with the
greatest amount of employment. The question is not whether it is better
to pay four or eight cash for a cup of tea, or five or ten tales for
a shirt. These are puerilities unworthy of a thinking mind. Nobody
disputes your proposition. The question is whether it is better to pay
dearer for a commodity you want to buy, and have, through the abundance
of employment and the higher price of labour, the means of acquiring it;
or whether, it is better to limit the sources of employment, and with
them the mass of the national production--to transport, by improved
means of transit, the objects of consumption, cheaper, it is true, but
taking away at the same time from classes of our population the means of
purchasing these objects even at their reduced price."

Seeing the Emperor still unconvinced, Kouang added, "Sire, deign to give
me your attention. I have still another quotation from the _Moniteur
Industriel_ to bring under your notice."

But the Emperor said:

"I don't require your Chinese journals to enable me to find out that to
create _obstacles_ is to divert and misapply labour. But that is not my
mission. Go and clear out the canal; and we shall reform the Customhouse

And Kouang went away tearing his beard, and appealing to his God, "O Fo!
take pity on thy people; for we have now got an Emperor of the English
school, and I see clearly that in a short time we shall be in want of
everything, for we shall no longer require to do anything."


This is the greatest and most common fallacy in reasoning.

Real sufferings, for example, have manifested themselves in England.*

     * This was written in January 1848.--Translator.

These sufferings come in the train of two other phenomena:

1st, The reformed tariff;

2d, Two bad harvests in succession.

To which of these two last circumstances are we to attribute the first?

The protectionists exclaim:

It is this accursed free-trade which does all the harm. It promised us
wonderful things; we accepted it; and here are our manufactures at a
standstill, and the people suffering: _Cum hoc, ergo propter hoc_.

Free-trade distributes in the most uniform and equitable manner the
fruits which Providence accords to human labour. If we are deprived
of part of these fruits by natural causes, such as a succession of bad
seasons, free-trade does not fail to distribute in the same manner what
remains. Men are, no doubt, not so well provided with what they want;
but are we to impute this to free-trade, or to the bad harvests?

Liberty acts on the same principle as insurances. When an accident, like
a fire, happens, insurance spreads over a great number of men, and a
great number of years, losses which, in the absence of insurance, would
have fallen all at once upon one individual. But will any one undertake
to affirm that fire has become a greater evil since the introduction of

In 1842, 1843, and 1844, the reduction of taxes began in England. At the
same time the harvests were very abundant; and we are led to conclude
that these two circumstances concurred in producing the unparalleled
prosperity which England enjoyed during that period.

In 1845, the harvest was bad; and in 1846, worse still.

Provisions rose in price; and the people were forced to expend their
resources on first necessaries, and to limit their consumption of other
commodities. Clothing was less in demand, manufactories had less work,
and wages tended to fall.

Fortunately, in that same year, the barriers of restriction were still
more effectually removed, and an enormous quantity of provisions reached
the English market. Had this not been so, it is nearly certain that a
formidable revolution would have taken place.

And yet free-trade is blamed for disasters which it tended to prevent,
and in part, at least, to repair!

A poor leper lived in solitude. Whatever he happened to touch, no
one else would touch. Obliged to pine in solitude, he led a miserable
existence. An eminent physician cured him, and now our poor hermit was
admitted to all the benefits of _free-trade, and had full liberty to
effect exchanges_. What brilliant prospects were opened to him! He
delighted in calculating the advantages which, through his restored
intercourse with his fellow-men, he was able to derive from his own
vigorous exertions. He happened to break both his arms, and was landed
in poverty and misery. The journalists who were witnesses of that misery
said, "See to what this liberty of making exchanges has reduced him!
Verily, he was less to be pitied when he lived alone." "What!" said
the physician, "do you make no allowance for his broken arms? Has that
accident nothing to do with his present unhappy state? His misfortune
arises from his having lost the use of his hands, and not from his
having been cured of his leprosy. He would have been a fitter subject
for your compassion had he been lame, and leprous into the bargain."

_Post hoc, ergo propter hoc_. Beware of that sophism.


This little book of Sophisms is found to be too theoretical, scientific,
and metaphysical. Be it so. Let us try the effect of a more trivial and
hackneyed, or, if you will, a ruder style. Convinced that the public is
duped in this matter of protection, I have endeavoured to prove it. But
if outcry is preferred to argument, let us vociferate,

     "King Midas has a snout, and asses' ears."*

     * "_Auriculas asini Mida rex habet_."--Persius, sat. i. The
     line as given in the text is from Dryden's translation.--

A burst of plain speaking has more effect frequently than the most
polished circumlocution. You remember Oronte, and the difficulty which
the _Misanthrope_ had in convincing him of his folly.*

Alceste. On s'expose à jouer un mauvais personnage.

Oronte. Est-ce que vous voulez me declarer par là que j'ai tort de

Alceste. Je ne dis pas cela.


Oronte. Est-ce que j'écris mal?

Alceste. Je ne dis pas cela.

Mais enfin....

Oronte. Mais ne puis-je savoir ce que dans mon sonnet?...

Alceste. Franchement, il est bon à mettre au Cabinet.

To speak plainly, Good Public! _you are robbed_. This is speaking
bluntly, but the thing is very evident. (_C'est cru, mais c'est clair_).

The words _theft, to steal, robbery_, may appear ugly words to many
people. I ask such people, as Harpagon asks Elise,** "Is it the word or
the thing which frightens you?"

     * See Molière's play of The Misanthrope.--Translator.

     ** See Molière's play of Oevare.--Translator.

"Whoever has possessed himself fraudulently of a thing which does not
belong to him is guilty of theft." (C. Pen., art. 379.)

To steal: To take by stealth or by force. (_Dictionnaire de

Thief: He who exacts more than is due to him. (75.)

Now, does the monopolist, who, by a law of his own making, obliges me to
pay him 20 francs for what I could get elsewhere for 15, not take from
me fraudulently 5 francs which belonged to me?

Does he not take them by stealth or by force?

Does he not exact more than is due to him?

He takes, purloins, exacts, it may be said; but not by stealth or by
force, which are the characteristics of theft.

When our bulletins de contributions have included in them 5 francs for
the premium which the monopolist takes, exacts, or abstracts, what can
be more stealthy for the unsuspecting? And for those who are not dupes,
and who do suspect, what savours more of force, seeing that on the first
refusal the tax-gather's bailiff is at the door?

But let monopolists take courage. Premium thefts, tariff thefts, if they
violate equity as much as theft à l'Américaine, do not violate the law;
on the contrary, they are perpetrated according to law; and if they are
worse than common thefts, they do not come under the cognizance of _la

Besides, right or wrong, we are all robbed or robbers in this business.
The author of this volume might very well cry "Stop thief!" when he
buys; and with equal reason he might have that cry addressed to him when
he sells;* and if he is in a situation different from that of many of
his countrymen, the difference consists in this, that he knows that he
loses more than he gains by the game, and they don't know it. If they
knew it, the game would soon be given up.

     * Possessing some landed property, on which he lives, he
     belongs to the protected class. This circumstance should
     disarm criticism. It shows that if he uses hard words, they
     are directed against the thing itself, and not against men's
     intentions or motives.

Nor do I boast of being the first to give the thing its right name. Adam
Smith said, sixty years ago, that "when manufacturers hold meetings, we
may be sure a plot is hatching against the pockets of the public." Can
we be surprised at this, when the public winks at it?

Well, then, suppose a meeting of manufacturers deliberating formally,
under the title of _conseils généraux_. What takes place, and what is
resolved upon?

Here is an abridged report of one of their meetings:--

"Shipowner: Our merchant shipping is at the lowest ebb. (Dissent) That
is not to be wondered at. I cannot construct ships without iron. I can
buy it in the market of the world at 10 francs; but by law the French
ironmaster forces me to pay him 15 francs, which takes 5 francs out of
my pocket. I demand liberty to purchase iron wherever I see proper.

"Ironmaster: In the market of the world I find freights at 20 francs. By
law I am obliged to pay the French shipowner 30; he takes 10 francs out
of my pocket. He robs me, and I rob him; all quite right.

"Statesman: The shipowner has arrived at a hasty conclusion. Let us
cultivate union as regards that which constitutes our strength. If we
give up a single point of the theory of protection, the whole theory
falls to the ground.

"Shipowner: For us shipowners protection has been a failure. I repeat
that the merchant marine is at its lowest ebb.

"Shipmaster: Well, let us raise the _surtaxe_, and let the shipowner who
now exacts 30 francs from the public for his freight, charge 40.

"A Minister: The government will make all the use they can of the
beautiful mechanism of the _surtaxe_; but I fear that will not be

"A Government Functionary: You are all very easily frightened. Does the
tariff alone protect you? and do you lay taxation out of account? If
the consumer is kind and benevolent, the taxpayer is not less so. Let
us heap taxes upon him, and the shipowner will be satisfied. I propose
a premium of five francs to be levied from the public taxpayers, to be
handed over to the shipbuilder for each ton of iron he shall employ.

"Confused voices: Agreed! agreed! An agriculturist: Three francs premium
upon the hectolitre of corn for me! A manufacturer: Two francs premium
on the yard of cloth for me! etc., etc.

"The President: This then is what we have agreed upon. Our session has
instituted a system of _premiums_, and it will be to our eternal honour.
What branch of industry can possibly henceforth be a loser, since we
have two means, and both so very simple, of converting our losses into
gains--the tariff and the premium? The sitting is adjourned."

I really think some supernatural vision must have foreshadowed to me in
a dream the near approach of the premium (who knows but I may have
first suggested the idea to M. Dupin?) when six months ago I wrote these

"It appears evident to me that protection, without changing its nature
or the effects which it produces, might take the form of a direct tax,
levied by the state, and distributed in premiums of indemnification
among privileged branches of industry."

And after comparing a protective duty to a premium, I added, "I confess
candidly my preference for the last system. It seems to me juster, more
economical, and more fair. Juster, because if society desires to make
presents to some of its members, all ought to bear the expense;
more economical, because it would save a great deal in the cost of
collection, and do away with many of the trammels with which trade is
hampered; more fair, because the public would see clearly the nature of
the operation, and act accordingly."*

     * _Sophismes Economiques_, first series, ch. v. _ante_.

Since the occasion presents itself to us so opportunely, let us study
this system of _plunder by premium_; for all we say of it applies
equally to the system of plunder by tariff; and as the latter is a
little better concealed, the direct may help us to detect and expose
the indirect system of cheating. The mind will thus be led from what is
simple to what is more complicated.

But it may be asked, Is there not a species of theft which is more
simple still? Undoubtedly; there is _highway robbery_, which wants only
to be legalized, and made a monopoly of, or, in the language of the
present day, _organized_.

I have been reading what follows in a book of travels:--

"When we reached the kingdom of A., all branches of industry declared
themselves in a state of suffering. Agriculture groaned, manufactures
complained, trade murmured, the shipping interest grumbled, and the
government were at a loss what to do. First of all, the idea was to lay
a pretty smart tax on all the malcontents, and afterwards to divide the
proceeds among them after retaining its own quota; this would have been
on the principle of the Spanish lottery. There are a thousand of you,
and the State takes a piastre from each; then by sleight of hand, it
conveys away 250 piastres, and divides the remaining 750 in larger and
smaller proportions among the ticket-holders. The gallant Hidalgo who
gets three-fourths of a piastre, forgetting that he had contributed a
whole piastre, cannot conceal his delight, and rushes off to spend his
fifteen reals at the alehouse. This is very much the same thing as
we see taking place in France. But the government had overrated the
stupidity of the population when it endeavoured to make them accept such
a species of protection, and at length it lighted upon the following

"The country was covered with a network of highroads. The government
had these roads accurately measured; and then it announced to the
agriculturist, 'All that you can steal from travellers between these two
points is yours; let that serve as a _premium_ for your protection and
encouragement.' Afterwards it assigned to each manufacturer, to each
shipowner, a certain portion of road, to be made available for their
profit, according to this formula:--

     Dono tibi et concedo Virtutem et puissantiam Yolandi,
     Et escroqtîïindi,
     Impunè per totam istam Viam."

Now it has come to pass that the natives of the kingdom of A. have
become so habituated to this system, that they take into account only
what they are enabled to steal, not what is stolen from them, being so
determined to regard pillage only from the standpoint of the thief, that
they look upon the sum total of individual thefts as a national gain,
and refuse to abandon a system of protection, without which they say no
branch of industry could support itself.

You demur to this. It is not possible, you exclaim, that a whole people
should be led to ascribe a redundancy of wealth to mutual robbery.

And why not? We see that this conviction pervades France, and that
we are constantly organizing and improving the system of _reciprocal
robbery_ under the respectable names of premiums and protective tariffs.

We must not, however, be guilty of exaggeration. As regards the mode of
levying, and other collateral circumstances, the system adopted in the
kingdom of A. may be worse than ours; but we must at the same time admit
that, as regards the principle and its necessary consequences, there is
not an atom of difference between these two species of theft; which are
both organized by law for the purpose of supplementing the profits of
particular branches of industry.

Remark also, that if _highway robbery_ presents some inconveniences in
its actual perpetration, it has likewise some advantages which we do not
find in _robbery by tariff_.

For example, it is possible to make an equitable division among all the
producers. It is not so in the case of customs duties. The latter are
incapable of protecting certain classes of society, such as artisans,
shopkeepers, men of letters, lawyers, soldiers, labourers, etc.

It is true that the robbery by premium assumes an infinite number of
shapes, and in this respect is not inferior to highway robbery; but, on
the other hand, it leads frequently to results so whimsical and awkward
that the natives of the kingdom of A. may well laugh at us.

What the victim of a highway robbery loses, the thief gains, and the
articles stolen remain in the country. But under the system of robbery
by premium, what the tax exacts from the Frenchman is conferred
frequently on the Chinese, on the Hottentots, on the Caffres, etc., and
here is the way in which this takes place:

A piece of cloth, we shall suppose, is worth 100 francs at Bordeaux. It
cannot be sold below that price without a loss. It is impossible to sell
it above that price because the competition of merchants prevents the
price rising. In these circumstances, if a Frenchman desires to have the
cloth, he must pay 100 francs, or want it. But if it is an Englishman
who wants the cloth, the government steps in, and says to the merchant,
"Sell your cloth, and we will get you 20 francs from the taxpayers." The
merchant who could not get more than 100 francs for his cloth, sells it
to the Englishman for 80. This sum, added to the 20 francs produced by
the premium theft, makes all square. This is exactly the same case as if
the taxpayers had given 20 francs to the Englishmen, upon condition of
his buying French cloth at 20 francs discount, at 20 francs below the
cost of production, at 20 francs below what it has cost ourselves. The
robbery by premium, then, has this peculiarity, that the people robbed
are resident in the country which tolerates it, while the people who
profit by the robbery are scattered over the world.

Verily, it is marvellous that people should persist in maintaining that
_all which an individual steals from the masses is a general gain_.
Perpetual motion, the philosopher's stone, the quadrature of the circle,
are antiquated problems; but the theory of _progress by plunder_ is
still held in honour. _A priori_, we should have thought that, of all
imaginable puerilities, it was the least likely to survive.

Some people will say, You are partisans, then, of the _laissez
passer?_--economists of the school of Smith and Say? You do not desire
the organization of labour. Yes, gentlemen, organize labour as much as
you choose, but have the goodness not to organize theft.

Another, and a more numerous, set keep repeating, premiums, tariffs, all
that has been exaggerated. We should use them without abusing them. A
judicious liberty, combined with a moderate protection, that is
what discreet and practical men desire. Let us steer clear of fixed
principles and inflexible rules.

This is precisely what the traveller tells us takes place in the kingdom
of A. "Highway robbery," say the sages, "is neither good nor bad in
itself; that depends upon circumstances. All we are concerned with is
to weigh things, and see our functionaries well paid for the work of
weighing. It may be that we have given too great latitude to pillage;
perhaps we have not given enough. Let us examine and balance the
accounts of each man employed in the work of pillage. To those who do
not earn enough, let us assign a larger portion of the road. To those
who gain too much, we must limit the days or months of pillage."

Those who talk in this way gain a great reputation for moderation,
prudence, and good sense. They never aspire to the highest offices in
the state.

Those who say, Repress all injustice, whether on a greater or a smaller
scale, suffer no dishonesty, to however small an extent, are marked down
for _idéologues_, idle dreamers, who keep repeating over and over again
the same thing. The people, moreover, find their arguments too clear,
and why should they be expected to believe what is so easily understood?


Jacques Bonhomme, a Vinedresser.

M. Lasouche, Taxgatherer.

L.: You have secured twenty tuns of wine?

J.: Yes; by dint of my own skill and labour.

L.: Have the goodness to deliver up to me six of the best.

J.: Six tuns out of twenty! Good Heaven! you are going to ruin me. And,
please, Sir, for what purpose do you intend them?

L.: The first will be handed over to the creditors of the State. When
people have debts, the least thing they can do is to pay interest upon

J.: And what becomes of the capital?

L.: That is too long a story to tell you at present. One part used to be
converted into cartridges, which emitted the most beautiful smoke in the
world. Another went to pay the men who had got crippled in foreign wars.
Then, when this expenditure brought invasion upon us, our polite friend,
the enemy, was unwilling to take leave of us without carrying away some
of our money as a _soutenir_, and this money had to be borrowed.

J.: And what benefit do I derive from this now?

L.: The satisfaction of saying--

     Que je suis fier d'être Français
     Quand je regarde la colonne!

J.: And the humiliation of leaving to my heirs an estate burdened with
a perpetual rent-charge. Still, it is necessary to pay one's debts,
whatever foolish use is made of the proceeds. So much for the disposal
of one tun; but what about the five others?

L.: One goes to support the public service, the civil list, the judges
who protect your property when your neighbour wishes wrongfully to
appropriate it, the gendarmes who protect you from robbers when you are
asleep, the cantonnier who maintains the highways, the curé who baptizes
your children, the schoolmaster who educates them, and, lastly, your
humble servant, who cannot be expected to work exactly for nothing.

J.: All right; service for service is quite fair, and I have nothing to
say against it. I should like quite as well, no doubt, to deal directly
with the rector and the schoolmaster on my own account; but I don't
stand upon that. This accounts for the second tun--but we have still
other four to account for.

L.: Would you consider two tuns as more than your fair contribution to
the expense of the army and navy?

J.: Alas! that is a small affair, compared with what the two services
have cost me already, for they have deprived me of two sons whom I
dearly loved.

L.: It is necessary to maintain the balance of power.

J.: And would that balance not be quite as well maintained if the
European powers were to reduce their forces by one-half or three
-fourths? We should preserve our children and our money. All that is
requisite is to come to a common understanding.

L.: Yes; but they don't understand one another.

J.: It is that which fills me with astonishment, for they suffer from it
in common.

L.: It is partly your own doing, Jacques Bonhomme.

J.: You are joking, Mr Taxgatherer. Have I any voice in the matter?

L.: Whom did you vote for as deputy?

J.: A brave general officer, who will soon be a marshal, if God spares

L.: And upon what does the gallant general live?

J.: Upon my six tuns, I should think.

L.: What would happen to him if he voted a reduction of the army, and of
your contingent?

J.: Instead of being made a marshal, he would be forced to retire.

L.: Do you understand now that you have yourself....

J.: Let us pass on to the fifth tun, if you please.

L.: That goes to Algeria.

J.: To Algeria! And yet they tell us that all the Mussulmans are
wine-haters, barbarians as they are! I have often inquired whether it
is their ignorance of claret which has made them infidels, or their
infidelity which has made them ignorant of claret. And then, what
service do they render me in return for this nectar which has cost me so
much toil?

L.: None at all; nor is the wine destined for the Mussulman, but for
good Christians who spend their lives in Barbary.

J.: And what service do they render me?

L.: They make _razzias_, and suffer from them in their turn; they kill
and are killed; they are seized with dysentery and sent to the hospital;
they make harbours and roads, build villages, and people them with
Maltese, Italians, Spaniards, and Swiss, who live upon your wine; for
another supply of which, I can tell you, I will soon come back to you.

J.: Good gracious! that is too much. I shall give you a flat refusal A
vinedresser who could be guilty of such folly would be sent to Bicétre.
To make roads over Mount Atlas--good Heavens! when I can scarcely
leave my house for want of roads! To form harbours in Barbary, when the
Garonne is silted up! To carry off my children whom I love, and send
them to torment the Kabyles! To make me pay for houses, seed, and
cattle, to be handed over to Greeks and Maltese, when we have so many
poor people to provide for at home!

L.: The poor! Just so; they rid the country of the _trop plein_, and
prevent a redundant population.

J.: And we are to send after them to Algeria the capital on which they
could live at home!

L.: But then you are laying the foundations of a great empire, you
carry civilization into Africa, thus crowning your country with immortal

J.: You are a poet, Mr Taxgatherer. I am a plain vinedresser, and I
refuse your demand.

L.: But think, that in the course of some thousands of years, your
present advances will be recouped and repaid a hundredfold to your
descendants. The men who direct the enterprise assure us that it will be

J.: In the meantime, in order to defray the expense, they ask me first
of all for one cask of wine, then for two, then for three, and now I am
taxed by the tun! I persist in my refusal.

L.: Your refusal comes too late. Your _representative_ has stipulated
for the whole quantity I demand.

J.: Too true. Cursed weakness on my part! Surely, in making him my
proxy, I was guilty of a piece of folly; for what is there in common
between a general officer and a poor vinedresser?

L.: Oh, yes; there is something in common, namely, the wine, which he
has voted to himself in your name.

J.: You may well laugh at me, Mr Taxgatherer, for I richly deserve it.
But be reasonable. Leave me at least the sixth tun. You have already
secured payment of the interest of the debt, and provided for the civil
list and the public service, besides perpetuating the war in Africa.
What more would you have?

L.: It is needless to higgle with me. Communicate your views to Monsieur
le General, your representative. For the present, he has voted away your

J.: Confound the fellow! But tell me what you intend to make of this
last cask, the best of my whole stock? Stay, taste this wine. How ripe,
mellow, and full-bodied it is!

L.: Excellent! delicious! It will suit Mons. D., the cloth-manufacturer,

J.: Mons. D., the cloth-manufacturer? What do you mean?

L.: That he will reap the benefit.

J.: How? What? I'll be hanged if I understand you!

L.: Don't you know that Mons. D. has set on foot a grand undertaking,
which will prove most useful to the country, but which, when everything
is taken into account, causes each year a considerable pecuniary loss?

J.: I am sorry to hear it, but what can I do?

L.: The Chamber has come to the conclusion that, if this state of things
continues, Mons. D. will be under the necessity of either working
more profitably, or of shutting up his manufacturing establishment

J.: But what have these losing speculations of Mons. D. to do with my

L.: The Chamber has found out that, by making over to Mons. D. some wine
taken from your cellar, some corn taken from your neighbour's granaries,
some money kept off the workmen's wages, the losses of that enterprising
patriot may be converted into profits.

J.: The recipe is as infallible as it is ingenious. But, zounds!
it is awfully iniquitous. Mons. D., forsooth, is to make up his losses
by laying hold of my wine?

L.: Not exactly of the wine, but of its price. This is what we
denominate _premiums of encouragement_, or bounties. Don't you see the
great service you are rendering to the country?

J.: You mean to Mons. D.?

L.: To the country. Mons. D. assures us that his manufacture prospers
in consequence of this arrangement, and in this way he considers the
country is enriched. He said so the other day in the Chamber, of which
he is a member.

J.: This is a wretched quibble! A speculator enters into a losing trade,
and dissipates his capital; and then he extorts from me and from my
neighbours wine and corn of sufficient value, not only to repair his
losses, but afford him a profit, and this is represented as a gain to
the country at large.

L.: Your representative having come to this conclusion, you have nothing
more to do but to deliver up to me the six tuns of wine which I demand,
and sell the remaining fourteen tuns to the best advantage.

J.: That is my business.

L.: It will be unfortunate if you do not realize a large price

J.: I will think of it.

L.: The higher price will enable you to procure more of other things.

J.: I am aware of that, Sir.

L.: In the first place, if you purchase iron to renew your ploughs and
your spades, the law decrees that you must pay the ironmaster double
what the commodity is worth.

J.: Yes, this is very consolatory.

L.: Then you have need of coal, of butchers' meat, of cloth, of oil, of
wool, of sugar; and for each of these commodities the law makes you pay

J.: It is horrible, frightful, abominable!

L.: Why should you indulge in complaints? You yourself, through your

J.: Say nothing more of my representative. I am singularly represented,
it is true. But they will not impose upon me a second time. I shall be
represented by a good and honest peasant.

L.: Bah! you will re-elect the gallant General.

J.: Shall I re-elect him, to divide my wine among Africans and

L.: I tell you, you will re-elect him.

J,: This is too much. I am free to re-elect him or not, as I choose.

L.: But you will so choose.

J.: Let him come forward again, and he will find whom he has to deal

L.: Well, we shall see. Farewell. I carry away your six tuns of wine, to
be distributed as your friend, the General, has determined.


"If I were but one of His Majesty's ministers!...

"Well, what would you do?"

"I should begin by--by--faith, by being very much at a loss. For it is
clear I could only be a minister in consequence of having the majority
in my favour; I could only have the majority in my favour by securing
the popular suffrage; and I could attain that end, honestly at least,
only by governing in accordance with public opinion. If I should attempt
to carry out my own opinions, I should no longer have the majority; and
if I lost the favour of the majority, I should be no longer one of His
Majesty's ministers."

"But suppose yourself already a minister, and that you experience no
opposition from the majority, what would you do?"

"I should inquire on what side _justice_ lay."

"And then?"

"I should inquire on what side _utility_ lay."

"And then?"

"I should inquire whether justice and utility were in harmony, or ran
counter to one another."

"And if you found they were not in harmony?"

     "Je dirais au roi Philippe:
     Reprenez votre portefeuille.
     La rime n'est pas riche et le style en est vieux;
     Mais ne voyez-vous pas que cela vaut bien mieux,
     Que ces transactions dont le bon sens murmure,
     Et que l'honnêteté parle là toute pure."

"But if you found that the just and the useful were one and the same

"Then I should go straight forward."

"True; but to realize utility by means of justice, a third thing is



"You granted me that."


"Just now."


"In assuming that I had the majority on my side."

"A most dangerous concession, I fear; for it implies that the majority
see clearly what is just, see clearly what is useful, and see clearly
that both are in perfect harmony."

"And if they see clearly all this, good results will work themselves
out, so to speak, of their own accord."

"You always bring me back to this, that no reform is possible apart from
the progress of general intelligence."

"Assuming this progress, every needed reform will infallibly follow."

"True; but this presupposed progress is a work of time. Suppose it
accomplished, what would you do? I am anxious to see you actually and
practically at work."

"I should begin by reducing the rate of postage to a penny."

"I have heard you speak of a halfpenny."*

     * See chap. xii. of _Sophismes_, second series, _post_.

"Yes, but as I have other reforms in view, I should proceed prudently,
in the first instance, to avoid any risk of a deficit."

"Fine prudence, to be sure! You have already landed yourself in a
deficit of 30 millions of francs."

"Then I should reduce the salt-tax to 10 francs."

"Good. Then you land yourself in a deficit of other thirty millions. You
have doubtless invented a new tax?"

"Heaven forbid! And besides, I do not flatter myself with possessing an
inventive genius."

"It will be very necessary, however.... Ah! I see. What was I thinking
of? You intend simply to reduce the expenditure. I did not think of

"You are not singular. I shall come to that; but for the present, that
is not the resource on which I depend."

"What! you are to diminish the revenue without reducing the expenditure,
and withal avoid a deficit!"

"Yes; by diminishing other taxes at the same time."

(Here the interlocutor, raising the forefinger of the right hand to his
forehead, tossed his head, as if beating about for ideas.)

"By my faith! a most ingenious process. I pay over 100 francs to the
Treasury; you relieve me to the extent of 5 francs upon salt, and 5
francs upon postages; and in order that the Treasury may still receive
100 francs, you relieve me to the extent of 10 francs on some other

"Exactly; I see you understand what I mean."

"The thing seems so strange that I am not quite sure that I even heard
you distinctly."

"I repeat, I balance one _dégrèvement_ by another."

"Well, I happen to have a few minutes to spare, and I should like much
to hear you explain this paradox."

"Here is the whole mystery. I know a tax which costs the taxpayer 20
francs, and of which not one farthing ever reaches the Treasury. I
relieve you of one-half, and I see that the other half finds its way to
the _Hôtel des Finances_."

"Truly you are an unrivalled financier. And what tax, pray, do I pay
which does not reach the Treasury?"

"How much does this coat cost you?"

"100 francs."

"And if you procured the cloth from Verviers, how much would it cost

"80 francs."

"Why, then, did you not order it from Verviers?"

"Because that is forbidden."

"And why is it forbidden?"

"In order that the coat may cost 100 instead of 80 francs."

"This prohibition, then, costs you 20 francs."


"And where do these 20 francs go to?"

"Where should they go to, but into the pocket of the

"Well, then, give me 10 francs for the Treasury, I will abrogate the
prohibition, and you will still be a gainer of 10 francs."

"Oh! I begin to follow you. The account with the Treasury will then
stand thus: The revenue loses 5 francs upon salt, and 5 upon postages,
and gains 10 francs upon cloth. The one balances the other."

"And your own account stands thus: You gain 5 francs upon salt, 5 francs
upon postages, and 10 francs upon cloth."

"Total, 20 francs. I like your plan; but what comes of the poor

"Oh! I have not lost sight of him. I manage to give him compensation
likewise by means of _dégrèvements_ which are profitable to the revenue;
and what I have done for you as regards cloth, I do for him as regards
wool, coals, machinery, etc., so that he is enabled to reduce his price
without being a loser."

"But are you sure that the one will balance the other?"

"The balance will be in his favour. The 20 francs which I enable you to
gain upon cloth, will be augmented by the amount I enable you to save
upon corn, meat, fuel, etc. This will amount to a large sum; and
a similar saving will be realized by each of your 35 millions of
fellow-countrymen. In this way, you will find the means of consuming
all the cloth produced at Verviers and Elbeuf. The nation will be better
clothed; that is all."

"I shall think over it; for all this, I confess, confuses my head

"After all, as regards clothing, the main consideration is to
be clothed. Your limbs are your own, and not the property of the
manufacturer. To protect them from the cold is your business and not
his! If the law takes his part against you, the law is unjust; and we
have been reasoning hitherto on the hypothesis that what is unjust is

"Perhaps I make too free with you; but I beg you to complete the
explanation of your financial plan."

"I shall have a new law of Customs."

"In two volumes folio?"

"No, in two articles."

"For once, then, we may dispense with repeating the famous axiom, 'No
one is supposed to be ignorant of the law'--_Nul n'est cerné ignorer la
loi_; which is a fiction. Let us see, then, your proposed tariff."

"Here it is:

"'Art. 1st.--All imported merchandise shall pay a duty of 5 per cent.
_ad valorem_.'"

"Even raw materials?"

"Except those which are destitute of value."

"But they are all possessed of value, less or more."

"In that case they must pay duty, less or more."

"How do you suppose that our manufacturers can compete with foreign
manufacturers who have their raw materials free?"

"The expenditure of the State being given, if we shut up this source of
revenue, we must open another. That will not do away with the relative
inferiority of our manufactures, and we shall have an additional staff
of officials to create and to pay for."

"True. I reason as if the problem were to do away with taxation, and not
to substitute one tax for another. I shall think over it. What is your
second article?"

"'Art. 2d.--All merchandise exported shall pay a duty of 5 per cent, _ad

"Good gracious! Monsieur l'Utopiste. You are going to get yourself
pelted, and, if necessary, I myself will cast the first stone."

"We have taken for granted that the majority are enlightened."

"Enlightened! Can you maintain that export duties will not be onerous?"

"All taxes are onerous; but this will be less so than others."

"The carnival justifies many eccentricities. Please to render plausible,
if that be possible, this new paradox."

"How much do you pay for this wine?"

"One franc the litre."

"How much would you have paid for it outside the barrier?"

"Half a franc."

"What is the reason of this difference?"

"Ask the octroi, which has imposed a tax of half a franc upon it."

"And who established the octroi?"

"The Commune of Paris, to enable them to pave and light the streets."

"It resolves itself, then, into an import duty. But if the neighbouring
communes had erected the octroi for their profit, what would have been
the consequence?"

"I should not the less have paid one franc for wine worth half a franc,
and the other half franc would have gone to pave and light Montmartre
and the Batignoles."

"So that, in effect, it is the consumer who pays the tax."

"That is beyond all doubt."

"Then, in imposing an export duty, you make the foreigner contribute to
your expenditure."

"Pardon me, that is _unjust_."

"Why? Before any commodity can be produced in a country, we must
presuppose as existing in that country education, security, roads, which
are all things that cost money. Why then should not the foreigner
bear the charges necessary to the production of the commodity of which
ultimately he is the consumer?"

"That is contrary to received ideas."

"Not in the least. The last buyer must bear the whole cost of
production, direct and indirect."

"It is in vain that you argue on this subject. It is self-evident that
such a measure would paralyze trade, and shut all markets against us."

"This is a mistake. If you paid this tax over and above all others, you
might be right. But if the 100 millions levied by this means relieved
the taxpayer to a corresponding extent of other burdens, you would
reappear in the foreign market with all your advantages, and even
with greater advantages, if this tax shall have given rise to less
complication and expense."

"I shall think over it. And now that we have put salt, postages, and
customs duties on a new footing, does this end your projected reform?"

"On the contrary, we are only beginning."

"Pray give me some account of your other utopian schemes."

"We have already given up 60 millions of francs on salt and postages.
The Customhouse affords compensation, but it gives also something far
more precious."

"And what is that, if you please?"

"International relations founded on justice, and a probability of peace
nearly equal to a certainty. I disband the army."

"The whole army?"

"Excepting the special arms, which will be recruited voluntarily like
all other professions. You thus see the conscription abolished."

"Be pleased, Sir, to use the word recruitment."

"Ah! I had forgotten; how easy it is in some countries to perpetuate and
hand down the most unpopular things by changing their names!"

"Thus, _droits réunis_ have become _contributions indirectes_."

"And _gendarmes_ have taken the name of _gardes municipaux_."

"In short, you would disarm the country on the faith of a utopian

"I said that I should disband the army--not that I would disarm the
country. On the contrary, I intend to give it invincible force."

"And how can you give consistency to this mass of contradictions?"

"I should call upon all citizens to take part in the service."

"It would be well worth while to dispense with the services of some of
them, in order to enrol all."

"You surely have not made me a minister in order to leave things as
they are. On my accession to power, I should say, like Richelieu, 'State
maxims are changed.' And my first maxim, the one I should employ as the
basis of my administration, would be this: Every citizen must prepare
for two things--to provide for his own subsistence, and to defend his

"It appears to me, at first sight, that there is some show of common
sense in what you say."

"Consequently, I should base the law of national defence on these two

"'Art. 1st.--Every able-bodied citizen shall remain _sous les drapeaux_
for four years--namely, from 21 to 25--for the purpose of receiving
military instruction.'"

"A fine economy, truly! You disband four hundred thousand soldiers to
create ten millions."

"Listen to my second article:

"'Art. 2d.--Unless it is proved that at 21 years of age he knows
perfectly the platoon drill.'"

"Nor do I stop here. It is certain that in order to get quit of four
years' service, there would be a terrible emulation among our youth to
learn the _par le flanc droit and the charge en douze temps_. The idea
is whimsical."

"It is better than that. For without bringing families to grief, without
encroaching on equality, would it not secure to the country, in a simple
and inexpensive manner, 10 millions of defenders capable of setting at
defiance all the standing armies of the world?"

"Really, if I were not on my guard, I should end with taking a serious
interest in your conceits."

_Utopian free-trader getting excited_. "Thank Heaven! here is my Budget
relieved of 200 millions. I suppress the octroi. I remodel indirect
contributions. I..."

"Oh! Monsieur l'Utopiste!"

_Utopian free-trader getting more and more excited_. "I should proclaim
freedom of worship, freedom of teaching, and new resources. I would buy
up the railways, pay off the public debtr and starve out stockjobbers."

"Monsieur l'Utopiste!"

"Set free from a multiplicity of cares, I should concentrate all
the powers of government in the repression of fraud, and in the
administration of prompt and cheap justice; I....

"Monsieur l'Utopiste, you undertake too many things; the nation will not
support you!"

"You have granted me a majority."

"I withdraw it."

"Be it so. Then I am no longer a minister, and my projects will continue
to be what they were--_Utopias_."


We expected some time ago to see our representative machinery produce
an article quite new, the manufacture of which had not as yet been
attempted--namely, _the relief of the taxpayer_.

All was expectation. The experiment was interesting, as well as new. The
motion of the machine disturbed nobody. In this respect, its performance
was admirable, no matter at what time, in what place, or under what
circumstances it was set agoing.

But as regarded those reforms which were to simplify, equalize, and
lighten the public burdens, no one has yet been able to find out what
has been accomplished.

It was said: You shall soon see; wait a little; this popular result
involves the labours of four sessions. The year 1842 gave us railways;
1846 is to give us the reduction of the salt-tax and of the rates of
postage; in 1850 we are to have a reformation of the tariff and of
indirect taxation. The fourth session is to be the jubilee of the

Men were full of hope, for everything seemed to favour the experiment.
The _Moniteur_ had announced that the revenue would go on increasing
every quarter, and what better use could be made of these unlooked-for
returns than to give the villager a little more salt to his _eau tiede_,
and an additional letter now and then from the battle-field, where his
son was risking his life?

But what has happened? Like the two preparations of sugar which are said
to hinder each other from crystallizing, or the Kilkenny cats, which
fought so desperately that nothing remained of them but their tails, the
two promised reforms have swallowed up each other. Nothing remains of
them but the tails; that is to say, we have _projets de lois, exposés
des motifs_, reports, statistical returns, and schedules, in which we
have the comfort of seeing our sufferings philanthropically appreciated
and homeopathically reckoned up. But as to the reforms themselves, they
have not crystallized. Nothing has come out of the crucible, and the
experiment has been a failure.

The chemists will by-and-by come before the jury and explain the causes
of the breakdown.

One will say, "I proposed a postal reform; but the Chamber wished first
of all to rid us of the salt-tax, and I gave it up."

Another will say, "I voted for doing away with the salt-tax, but the
Minister had proposed a postal reform, and my vote went for nothing."

And the jury, finding these reasons satisfactory, will begin the
experiment of new on the same data, and remit the work to the same

This proves that it would be well for us, notwithstanding the sources
from which it is derived, to adopt the practice introduced half a
century ago on the other side of the Channel, of prosecuting only one
reform at a time. It is slow, it is wearisome; but it leads to some

Here we have a dozen reforms on the anvil at the same time. They hustle
one another, like the ghosts at the Gate of Oblivion, where no one

     "Ohimè! che lasso Î
     Una a la volta, per carità."

Here is what Jacques Bonhomme said, in a dialogue with John Bull, and it
is worth being reported:--

Jacques Bonhomme, John Bull.

Jacques Bonhomme: Oh! who will deliver me from this hurricane of
reforms? My head is in a whirl. A new one seems to be invented every
day: university reform, financial reform, sanitary reform, parliamentary
reform, electoral reform, commercial reform, social reform, and, last of
all, comes postal reform!

John Bull: As regards the last, it is so easy and so useful, as we have
found by experience, that I venture to give you some advice upon the

Jacques: We are told that postal reform has turned out ill in England,
and that the Exchequer has lost half a million.

John: And has benefited the public by ten times that sum.

Jacques: No doubt of that.

John: We have every sign by which the public satisfaction can be
testified. The nation, following the lead of Sir Robert Peel and
Lord John Russell, have given Rowland Hill, in true British fashion,
substantial marks of the public gratitude. Even the poorer classes
testify their satisfaction by sealing their letters with wafers bearing
this inscription: "Public gratitude for postal reform." The leaders
of the Anti-Corn-Law League have proclaimed aloud in their place in
Parliament that without cheap postage thirty years would have been
required to accomplish their great undertaking, which had for object the
removal of duties on the food of the poor. The officers of the Board of
Trade have declared it unfortunate that the English coin does not admit
of a still greater reduction! What more proofs would you have?

Jacques: But the Treasury?

John: Do not the Treasury and the public sail in the same boat?

Jacques: Not quite. And then, is it quite clear that our postal system
has need to be reformed?

John: That is the question. Let us see how matters now stand. What is
done with the letters that are put into the post-office?

Jacques: The routine is very simple. The postmaster opens the letter-box
at a certain hour, and takes out of it, say, a hundred letters.

John: And then?

Jacques: Then he inspects them one by one. With a geographical table
before him, and a letter-weigher in his hand, he assigns each letter to
its proper category, according to weight and distance. There are only
eleven postal zones or districts, and as many degrees of weight.

John: That constitutes simply 121 combinations for each letter.

Jacques: Yes; and we must double that number, because the letter may, or
may not, belong to the _service rural_.

John: There are, then, 24,200 things to be inquired into with reference
to every hundred letters. And how does the postmaster then proceed?

Jacques: He marks the weight on one corner of the letter, and the
postage in the middle of the address, by a hieroglyphic agreed upon at

John: And then?

Jacques: He stamps the letters, and arranges them in ten parcels
corresponding with the other post-offices with which he is in
communication. He adds up the total postages of the ten parcels.

John: And then?

Jacques: Then he enters the ten sums in a register, with counterfoils.

John: And then?

Jacques: Then he writes a letter to each of his ten correspondent
postmasters, telling them with what sums he debits them.

John: And if the letters are prepaid?

Jacques: Then, I grant you, the service becomes somewhat complicated.
He must in that case receive the letter, weigh it, and consign it to its
proper category as before, receive payment and give change, select the
appropriate stamp among thirty others, mark on the letter its number,
weight, and postage; transcribe the full address, first in one register,
then in a second, then in a third, then on a detached slip; wrap up the
letter in the slip; send the whole, well secured by a string, to the
correspondent postmaster; and enter each of these details in a
dozen columns, selected from fifty other columns, which indicate the
letter-bag in which prepaid letters are put.

John: And all this for forty centimes (4d.)!

Jacques: Yes, on an average.

John: I see now that the despatch of letters is simple enough. Let us
see now what takes place on their arrival.

Jacques: The postmaster opens the post-bag.

John: And then?

Jacques: He reads the ten invoices of his correspondents.

John: And after that?

Jacques: He compares the totals of the invoices with the totals brought
out by each of the ten parcels of letters.

John: And after that?

Jacques: He brings the whole to a grand total to find out with what sum,
_en bloc_, he is to debit each letter-carrier.

John: And after that?

Jacques: After that, with a table of distances and letter-weigher in
hand, he verifies or rectifies the postage of each letter.

John: And after that?

Jacques: He enters in register after register, and in column after
column, the greater or less results he has found.

John: And after that?

Jacques: He puts himself in communication with the ten postmasters, his
correspondents, to advise them of errors of 10 or 20 centimes (a penny
or twopence).

John: And then?

Jacques: He collects and arranges all the letters he has received, to
hand them to the postman.

John: And after that?

Jacques: He states the total postages that each postman is charged with.

John: And after that?

Jacques: The postman verifies, or discusses, the signification of the
hieroglyphics. The postman finally advances the amount, and sets out.

John: Go on.

Jacques: The postman goes to the party to whom a letter is addressed,
and knocks at the door. A servant opens. There are six letters for
that address. The postages are added up, separately at first, then
altogether. They amount to 2 francs 70 centimes (2s. 3d.).

John: Go on.

Jacques: The servant goes in search of his master. The latter proceeds
to verify the hieroglyphics. He mistakes the threes for twos and the
nines for fours. He has doubts about the weights and distances. In
short, he has to ask the postman to walk upstairs, and on the way he
tries to find out the signatures of the letters, thinking it may be
prudent to refuse some of them.

John: Go on.

Jacques: The postman when he has got upstairs pleads the cause of
the post-office. They argue, they examine, they weigh, they calculate
distances--at length the party agrees to receive five of the letters,
and refuses one.

John: Go on.

Jacques: What remains is to pay the postage. The servant is sent to the
grocer for change. After a delay of twenty minutes he returns, and
the postman is at length set free, and rushes from door to door, to go
through the same ceremony at each.

John: Go on.

Jacques: He returns to the post-office. He counts and recounts with the
postmaster. He returns the letters refused, and gets repayment of
his advances for these. He reports the objections of the parties with
reference to weight and distance.

John: Go on.

Jacques: The postmaster has to refer to the registers, letter-bags, and
special slips, in order to make up an account of the letters which have
been refused.

John: Go on, if you please.

Jacques: I am thankful I am not a postmaster. We now come to accounts in
dozens and scores at the end of the month; to contrivances invented not
only to establish, but to check and control a minute responsibility,
involving a total of 50 millions of francs, made up of postages
amounting on an average to 43 centimes each (less than 4d.), and of
116 millions of letters, each of which may belong to one or other of 242

John: A very complicated simplicity truly! The man who has resolved this
problem must have a hundred times more genius than your Mons. Piron or
our Rowland Hill.

Jacques: Well, you seem to laugh at our system. Would you explain yours
to me?

John: In England, the government causes to be sold all over the country,
wherever it is judged useful, stamps, envelopes, and covers at a penny

Jacques: And after that?

John: You write your letter, fold it, put it in the envelope, and throw
it into the post-office.

Jacques: And after that?

John: "After that"--why, that is the whole affair. We have nothing to do
with distances, bulletins, registers, control, or accounting; we have
no money to give or to receive, and no concern with hieroglyphics,
discussions, interpretations, etc., etc.

Jacques: Truly this is very simple. But is it not too much so? An infant
might understand it. But such reforms as you describe stifle the genius
of great administrators. For my own part, I stick to the French mode
of going to work. And then your _uniform rate_ has the greatest of all
faults. It is unjust.

John: How so?

Jacques: Because it is unjust to charge as much for a letter addressed
to the immediate neighbourhood, as for one which you carry three hundred

John: At all events you will allow that the injustice goes no further
than to the extent of a penny.

Jacques: No matter--it is still injustice.

John: Besides, the injustice, which at the outside cannot extend beyond
a penny in any particular case, disappears when you take into account
the entire correspondence of any individual citizen who sends his
letters sometimes to a great distance and sometimes to places in the
immediate vicinity.

Jacques: I adhere to my opinion. The injustice is lessened--infinitely
lessened, if you will; it is inappreciable, infinitesimal, homoeopathic;
but it exists.

John: Does your government make you pay dearer for an ounce of tobacco
which you buy in the Rue de Clichy than for the same quantity retailed
on the Quai d'Orsay?

Jacques: What connexion is there between the two subjects of comparison?

John: In the one case as in the other, the cost of transport must be
taken into account. Mathematically, it would be just that each pinch of
snuff should be dearer in the Rue de Clichy than on the Quai d'Orsay by
the millionth part of a farthing.

Jacques: True; I don't dispute that it may be so.

John: Let me add, that your postal system is just only in appearance.
Two houses stand side by side, but one of them happens to be within,
and the other just outside, the zone or postal district. The one pays a
penny more than the other, just equal to the entire postage in England.
You see, then, that with you injustice is committed on a much greater
scale than with us.

Jacques: That is so. My objection does not amount to much; but the loss
of revenue still remains to be taken into account.

Here I ceased to listen to the two interlocutors. It turned out,
however, that Jacques Bonhomme was entirely converted; for some days
afterwards, the Report of M. Vuitry having made its appearance, Jacques
wrote the following letter to that honourable legislator:--

"J. Bonhomme to M. de Vuitry, Deputy, Reporter of the Commission charged
to examine the _projet de loi_ relative to the Postage of Letters.

"Monsieur,--Although I am not ignorant of the extreme discredit into
which one falls by making oneself the advocate of an absolute theory, I
think it my duty not to abandon the cause of a uniform rate of postage,
reduced to simple remuneration for the service actually rendered.

"My addressing myself to you will no doubt be regarded as a good joke.
On the one side appears a heated brain, a closet-reformer, who talks
of overturning an entire system all at once and without any gradual
transition; a dreamer, who has never, perhaps, cast his eye on that mass
of laws, ordinances, tables, schedules, and statistical details which
accompany your report,--in a word, a theorist. On the other appears a
grave, prudent, moderate-minded legislator, who has weighed, compared,
and shown due respect for the various interests involved, who has
rejected all systems, or, which comes to the same thing, has constructed
a system of his own, borrowed from all the others. The issue of such a
struggle cannot be doubtful.

"Nevertheless, as long as the question is pending, every one has a right
to state his opinions. I know that mine are sufficiently decided to
expose me to ridicule. All I can expect from the reader of this letter
is not to throw ridicule away (if, indeed, there be room for ridicule),
before, in place of after, having heard my reasons.

"For I, too, can appeal to experience. A great people has made the
experiment. What has been the result? We cannot deny that that people is
knowing in such matters, and that its opinion is entitled to weight.

"Very well, there is not a man in England whose voice is not in favour
of postal reform. Witness the subscription which has been opened for a
testimonial to Mr Rowland Hill. Witness the manner in which John Bull
testifies his gratitude. Witness the oft-repeated declaration of the
Anti-Corn-Law League:

'Without the penny postage we should never have had developed that
public opinion which has overturned the system of protection." All
this is confirmed by what we read in a work emanating from an official

"' The rates of postage should be regulated, not with a view to revenue,
but for the sole purpose of covering the expense.'

"To which Mr Macgregor adds:--

"'It is true that the rate having come down to our smallest coin, we
cannot lower it further, although it does yield some revenue. But this
source of revenue, which will go on constantly increasing, must be
employed to improve the service, and to develop our system of mail
steamers all over the world.'

"This brings me to examine the leading idea of the commission, which
is, on the other hand, that the rate of postage should be a source of
revenue to government.

"This idea runs through your entire report, and I allow that, under
the influence of this prejudice, you could arrive at nothing great or
comprehensive, and you are fortunate if, in trying to reconcile the two
systems, you have not fallen into the errors and drawbacks of both.

"The first question we have to consider is this: Is the correspondence
which passes between individual citizens a proper subject of taxation?

"I shall not fall back on abstract principles, or remind you that the
very essence of society being the communication of ideas, the object
of every government, should be to facilitate and not impede this

"Let us look to actual facts.

"The total length of our highways and departmental and country roads
extends to a million of kilomètres (625,000 miles). Supposing that each
has cost 100,000 francs (£4000), this makes a capital of 100 milliards
(£4,000,000,000) expended by the State to facilitate the transport of
passengers and goods.

"Now, put the question, if one of your honourable colleagues asked leave
of the Chamber to bring in a bill thus conceived:

"'From and after 1st January next, the Government will levy upon all
travellers a tax sufficient not only to cover the expense of maintaining
the highways, but to bring back to the Exchequer four or five times the
amount of that expense....

"Would you not feel such a proposal to be anti-social and monstrous?

"How is it that this consideration of profits, nay, of simple
remuneration, never presents itself to our minds when the question
regards the circulation of commodities, and yet appears so natural when
the question regards the circulation of ideas?

"Perhaps it is the result of habit. If we had a postal system to create,
it would most assuredly appear monstrous to establish it on a principle
of revenue.

"And yet remark that oppression is more glaring in this case than in the

"When Government has opened a new road it forces no one to make use of
it (It would do so undoubtedly if the use of the road were taxed.) But
while the Post-office regulations continue to be enforced, no one can
send a letter through any other channel, were it to his own mother.

"The rate of postage, then, in principle, ought to be remunerative, and,
for the same reason, uniform.

"If we set out with this idea, what marvellous beauty, facility, and
simplicity does not the reform I am advocating present!

"Here is the whole thing nearly put into the form of a law.

"'Article 1. From and after 1st January next there will be exposed to
sale, in every place where the Government judges it expedient, stamped
envelopes and covers, at the price of a halfpenny or a penny.

"'2. Every letter put into one of these envelopes, and not exceeding the
weight of half an ounce, every newspaper or print put into one of these
covers, and not exceeding the weight of... will be transmitted, and
delivered without cost at its address.

"'3. All Post-office accounting is entirely suppressed.

"'4. All pains and penalties with reference to the conveyance of letters
are abolished.'

"That is very simple, I admit--much too simple; and I anticipate a host
of objections.

"That the system I propose may be attended with drawbacks is not the
question; but whether yours is not attended with more.

"In sober earnest, can the two (except as regards revenue) be put in
comparison for a moment?

"Examine both. Compare them as regards facility, convenience, despatch,
simplicity, order, economy, justice, equality, multiplication of
transactions, public satisfaction, moral and intellectual development,
civilizing tendency; and tell me honestly if it is possible to hesitate
a moment.

"I shall not stop to enlarge on each of these considerations--I give you
the headings of twelve chapters, which I leave blank, persuaded that no
one can fill them up better than yourself.

"But since there is one objection--namely, revenue--I must say a word on
that head.

"You have constructed a table in order to show that even at twopence the
revenue would suffer a loss of £880,000.

"At a penny, the loss Would be £1,120,000, and at a halfpenny, of
£1,320,000; hypotheses so frightful that you do not even formulate them
in detail.

"But allow me to say that the figures in your report dance about with a
little too much freedom. In all your tables, in all your calculations,
you have the tacit reservation of _coteris paribus_. You assume that the
cost will be the same under a simple as under a complicated system of
administration--the same number of letters with the present average
postage of 4 1/2d. as with the uniform rate of twopence. You confine
yourself to this rule of three: if 87 millions of letters at 4d. yield
so much, then at 2d. the same number will yield so much; admitting,
nevertheless, certain distinctions when they militate against our
proposed reform.

"In order to estimate the real sacrifice of revenue, we must, first of
all, calculate the economy in the service which will be effected; then
in what proportion the amount of correspondence will be augmented. We
take this last datum solely into account, because we cannot suppose
that the saving of cost which will be realized will not be met by an
increased personnel rendered necessary by a more extended service.

"Undoubtedly, it is impossible to fix the exact amount of increase in
the circulation of letters which the reduction of postage would cause,
but in such matters a reasonable analogy has always been admitted.

"You yourself admit that in England a reduction of seven-eighths in the
rate has caused an increase of correspondence to the extent of 360 per

"Here, the lowering to 5 centimes (a halfpenny) of the rate which is at
present at an average of something less than 4 1/2d., would constitute
likewise a reduction of seven-eighths. We may therefore be allowed to
expect the same result--that is to say, 417 millions of letters, in
place of 116 millions.

"But let us count on 300 millions.

"Is there any exaggeration in assuming that with a rate of postage one
half less, we shall reach an average of 8 letters to each inhabitant
when in England they have reached 13.

Now 300 millions of letters, at 5 centimes, give, 15

100 millions of journals and prints, at 5 centimes, give 5

The present expense (which may diminish) is.

31 Deducting for mail steamers,....5

There remains for despatches, travellers, and money parcels,....26

Net product,......2

At present the net product is.....19

"Now I ask whether the Government, which makes a positive sacrifice
of 800 millions (£32,000,000) per annum in order to facilitate the
gratuitous transport of passengers, should not make a negative sacrifice
of 17 millions, in order not to make a gain upon the transmission and
circulation of ideas?

"But the Treasury, I am aware, has its own habits, and with whatever
complacence it sees its receipts increase, it feels proportional
disappointment in seeing them diminished by a single farthing. It seems
to be provided with those admirable valves which in the human frame
allow the blood to flow in one direction, but prevent its return. Be it
so. The Treasury is perhaps a little too old for us to quicken its pace.
We have no hope, therefore, that it will give in to us. But what will
be said if I, Jacques Bonhomme, show it a way which is simple, easy,
convenient, and essentially practical, of doing a great service to the
country without its costing a single farthing?

"The Post-office yields a gross return to the Treasury of.....50

Total yield of these three services, 280 millions.

"Now, bring down postages to the uniform rate of 5 centimes (a

"Lower the salt-tax to 10 francs (8s.) the hundredweight, as the Chamber
has already voted.

"Give me power to modify the customs tariff in such a way that I shall
be peremptorily prohibited from increasing any duty, but that I may
lower duties at pleasure.

"And I, Jacques Bonhomme, guarantee you a revenue, not of 280 millions,
but of 300 millions. Two hundred French bankers will be my sureties,
and all I ask for my reward is as much as these three taxes will produce
over and above 300 millions.

"Is it necessary for me to enumerate the advantages of my proposal?

"1. The people will receive all the advantage resulting from cheapness
in the price of an article of the first necessity--salt.

"2. Fathers will be able to write to their sons, and mothers to their
daughters. Nor will men's affections and sentiments, and the endearments
of love and friendship, be stemmed and driven back into their hearts, as
at present, by the hand of the tax-gatherer.

"3. To carry a letter from one friend to another will no longer be
inscribed in our code as a crime.

"4. Trade will revive with liberty, and our merchant shipping will
recover from its humiliation.

"5. The Treasury will gain at first twenty millions, afterwards it will
gain all that shall accrue to the revenue from other sources through the
saving realized by each citizen on salt, postages, and other things, the
duties on which have been lowered.

"If my proposal is rejected, what am I to conclude? Provided the bankers
I represent offer sufficient security, under what pretext can my
proposal be refused acceptance? It is impossible to invoke the
equilibrium of budgets. It would indeed be upset, but upset in such a
way that the receipts should exceed the expenses. This is no affair of
theory, of system, of statistics, of probability, of conjecture; it is
an offer, an offer like that of a company which solicits the concession
of a line of railway. The Treasury tells me what it derives from
postages, salt-tax, and customs. I offer to give it more. The objection,
then, cannot come from the Treasury. I offer to reduce the tariff of
salt, postages, and customs; I engage not to raise it; the objection,
then, cannot come from the taxpayers. From whom does it come, then?
From monopolists? It remains to be seen whether their voice shall be
permitted in France to drown the voice of the Government and the people.
To assure us of this, I beg you to transmit my proposal to the Council
of Ministers. Jacques Bonhomme.

"P.S.--Here is the text of my offer:--

"I, Jacques Bonhomme, representing a company of bankers and capitalists,
ready to give all guarantees and deposit whatever security may be

"Having learnt that the Government derives only 280 millions of francs
from customs duties, postages, and salt-tax, by means of the duties at
present fixed;

"I offer to give the Government 300 millions from the gross produce of
these three sources of revenue;

"And this while reducing the salt-tax from 30fr. to l0fr.;

"Reducing the rate of postage from 42 1/2 centimes, at an average, to a
uniform rate of from 5 to 10 centimes,

"On the single condition that I am permitted not to raise (which will
be formally prohibited), but to lower as much as I please the duties of
customs. Jacques Bonhomme."

"You are a fool," said I to Jacques Bonhomme, when he read me his
letter. "You can do nothing with moderation. The other day you cried out
against the hurricane of reforms, and here I find you demanding three,
making one of them the condition of the other two. You will ruin

"Be quiet," said he, "I have made all my calculations; I only wish they
may be accepted. But they will not be accepted." Upon this we parted,
our heads full, his of figures, mine of reflections which I forbear to
inflict upon the reader.


Scene I.--House of Master Peter.--Window looking out on a fine
park.--Three gentlemen seated near a good fire.

Peter: Bravo! Nothing like a good fire after a good dinner. It does feel
so comfortable. But, alas! how many honest folks, like the Boi d'Yvetot,

     "Soufflent, faute de bois,
     Dans leurs doigts."

Miserable creatures! A charitable thought has just come into my head.
You see these fine trees; I am about to fell them, and distribute the
timber among the poor.

Paul and John: What! gratis?

Peter: Not exactly. My good works would soon have an end were I to
dissipate my fortune. I estimate my park as worth £1000. By cutting down
the trees I shall pocket a good sum.

Paul: Wrong. Your wood as it stands is worth more than that of the
neighbouring forests, for it renders you services which they cannot
render. When cut down it will be only good for firewood, like any other,
and will not bring a penny more the load.

Peter: Oh! oh! Mr Theorist, you forget that I am a practical man. My
reputation as a speculator is sufficiently well established, I believe,
to prevent me from being taken for a noodle. Do you imagine I am going
to amuse myself by selling my timber at the price of float-wood?

Paul: It would seem so.

Peter: Simpleton! And what if I can hinder float-wood from being brought
into Paris?

Paul: That alters the case. But how can you manage it?

Peter: Here is the whole secret. You know that float-wood, on entering
the city, pays 5d. the load. To-morrow, I induce the commune to raise
the duty to £4, £8, £12,--in short, sufficiently high to prevent the
entry of a single log. Now, do you follow me? If the good people are
not to die of cold, they have no alternative but to come to my woodyard.
They will bid against each other for my wood, and I will sell it for a
high price; and this act of charity, successfully carried out, will put
me in a situation to do other acts of charity.

Paul: A fine invention, truly! It suggests to me another of the same

John: And what is that? Is philanthropy to be again brought into play?

Paul: How do you like this Normandy butter?

John: Excellent.

Paul: Hitherto I have thought it passable. But do you not find that it
takes you by the throat? I could make better butter in Paris. I shall
have four or five hundred cows, and distribute milk, butter, and cheese
among the poor.

Peter and John: What! in charity?

Paul: Bah! let us put charity always in the foreground. It is so fine a
figure that its very mask is a good passport. I shall give my butter to
the people, and they will give me their money. Is that what is called

John: No; not according to the Bourgeois Gentilhomme. But, call it what
you please, you will ruin yourself. How can Paris ever compete with
Normandy in dairy produce?

Paul: I shall be able to save the cost of carriage.

John: Be it so. Still, while paying that cost, the Normans can beat the

Paul: To give a man something at a lower price--is that what you call
beating him?

John: It is the usual phrase; and you will always find yourself beaten.

Paul: Yes; as Don Quixote was beaten. The blows will fall upon Sancho.
John, my friend, you forget the octroi.

John: The octroi! What has that to do with your butter?

Paul: To-morrow, I shall demand _protection_, and induce the commune to
prohibit butter being brought into Paris from Normandy and Brittany. The
people must then either dispense with it, or purchase mine, and at my
own price, too.

John: Upon my honour, gentlemen, your philanthropy has quite made a
convert of me.

     "On apprend à hurler, dit l'autre, avec les loups."

My mind is made up. I shall not be thought unworthy of my colleagues.
Peter, this sparkling fire has inflamed your soul. Paul, this butter has
lubricated the springs of your intelligence. I, too, feel stimulated by
this piece of powdered pork; and tomorrow I shall vote, and cause to
be voted, the exclusion of swine, dead and alive. That done, I shall
construct superb sheds in the heart of Paris,

     "Pour l'animal immonde aux Hébreux défendu."

I shall become a pig-driver and pork-butcher. Let us see how the good
people of Paris can avoid coming to provide themselves at my shop.

Peter: Softly, my good friends; if you enhance the price of butter and
salt meat to such an extent, you cut down beforehand the profit I expect
from my wood.

Paul: And my speculation will be no longer so wondrously profitable, if
I am overcharged for my firewood and bacon.

John: And I, what shall I gain by overcharging you for my sausages, if
you overcharge me for my faggots and bread and butter?

Peter: Very well, don't let us quarrel Let us rather put our heads
together and make reciprocal concessions. Moreover, it is not good to
consult one's self-interest exclusively--we must exercise humanity, and
see that the people do not want fuel.

Paul: Very right; and it is proper that the people should have butter to
their bread.

John: Undoubtedly; and a bit of bacon for the pot.

All: Three cheers for charity; three cheers for philanthropy; and
to-morrow we take the octroi by assault.

Peter: Ah! I forgot. One word more; it is essential. My good friends, in
this age of egotism the world is distrustful, and the purest intentions
are often misunderstood. Paul, you take the part of pleading for the
wood; John will do the same for the butter; and I shall devote myself to
the home-bred pig. It is necessary to prevent malignant suspicions.

Paul and John (leaving): Upon my word, that is a clever fellow.

Scene II.--Council Chamber.

Paul: _Mes chers collègues_, Every day there are brought to Paris great
masses of firewood, which drain away large sums of money. At this rate,
we shall all be ruined in three years, and what will become of the
poorer classes? (Cheers) We must prohibit foreign timber. I don't speak
for myself, for all the wood I possess would not make a tooth-pick. In
what I mean to say, then, I am entirely free from any personal interest
or bias. (Hear, hear) But here is my friend Peter, who possesses a park,
and he will guarantee an adequate supply of fuel to our fellow-citizens,
who will no longer be dependent on the charcoal-burners of the Yonne.
Have you ever turned your attention to the risk which we run of dying
of cold, if the proprietors of forests abroad should take it into their
heads to send no more firewood to Paris? Let us put a prohibition, then,
on bringing in wood. By this means we shall put a stop to the draining
away of our money, create an independent interest charged with
supplying the city with firewood, and open up to workmen a new source of
employment and remuneration. (Cheers)

John: I support the proposal of my honourable friend, the preceding
speaker, which is at once so philanthropic, and, as he himself has
explained, so entirely disinterested. It is indeed high time that we
should put an end to this insolent _laissez passer_, which has brought
immoderate competition into our markets, and to such an extent that
there is no province which possesses any special facility for providing
us with a product, be it what it may, which does not immediately
inundate us, undersell us, and bring ruin on the Parisian workman. It
is the duty of Government to equalize the conditions of production by
duties wisely adapted to each case, so as not to allow to enter from
without anything which is not dearer than in Paris, and so relieve us
from an unequal struggle. How, for example, can we possibly produce milk
and butter in Paris, with Brittany and Normandy at our door? Remember,
gentlemen, that the agriculturists of Brittany have cheaper land, a more
abundant supply of hay, and manual labour on more advantageous terms.

Does not common sense tell us that we must equalize the conditions by
a protective octroi tariff? I demand that the duty on milk and butter
should be raised by 1000 per cent., and still higher if necessary. The
workman's breakfast will cost a little more, but see to what extent his
wages will be raised! We shall see rising around us cow-houses, dairies,
and barrel chums, and the foundations laid of new sources of industry.
Not that I have any interest in this proposition. I am not a cowfeeder,
nor have I any wish to be so. The sole motive which actuates me is a
wish to be useful to the working classes. (Applause.)

Peter: I am delighted to see in this assembly statesmen so pure,
so enlightened, and so devoted to the best interests of the people.
(Cheers) I admire their disinterestedness, and I cannot do better than
imitate the noble example which has been set me. I give their motions
my support, and I shall only add another, for prohibiting the entry into
Paris of the pigs of Poitou. I have no desire, I assure you, to become
a pig-driver or a pork-butcher. In that case I should have made it a
matter of conscience to be silent. But is it not shameful, gentlemen,
that we should be the tributaries of the peasants of Poitou, who have
the audacity to come into our own market and take possession of a branch
of industry which we ourselves have no means of carrying on? and who,
after having inundated us with their hams and sausages, take perhaps
nothing from us in return? At all events, who will tell us that the
balance of trade is not in their favour, and that we are not obliged to
pay them a tribute in hard cash? Is it not evident that if the industry
of Poitou were transplanted to Paris, it would open up a steady demand
for Parisian labour? And then, gentlemen, is it not very possible, as M.
Lestiboudois has so well remarked, that we may be buying the salt pork
of Poitou, not with our incomes, but with our capital? Where will
that land us? Let us not suffer, then, that rivals who are at once
avaricious, greedy, and perfidious, should come here to undersell
us, and put it out of our power to provide ourselves with the same
commodities. Gentlemen, Paris has reposed in you her confidence; it is
for you to justify that confidence. The people are without employment;
it is for you to create employment for them; and if salt pork shall cost
them a somewhat higher price, we have, at least, the consciousness of
having sacrificed our own interests to those of the masses, as every
good magistrate ought to do. (Loud and long-continued cheers.)

A Voice: I have heard much talk of the poor; but under pretext of
affording them employment, you begin by depriving them of what is more
valuable than employment itself, namely, butter, firewood, and meat.

Peter, Paul, and John: Vote, vote! Down with Utopian dreamers,
theorists, generalizers! Vote, vote! (_The three motions are carried._)

Scene III.--Twenty years afterwards.

Son: Father, make up your mind; we must leave Paris. Nobody can any
longer live there--no work, and everything dear.

Father: You don't know, my son, how much it costs one to leave the place
where he was born.

Son: The worst thing of all is to perish from want.

Father: Go you, then, and search for a more hospitable country. For
myself, I will not leave the place where are the graves of your mother,
and of your brothers and sisters. I long to obtain with them that repose
which has been denied me in this city of desolation.

Son: Courage, father; we shall find employment somewhere else--in
Poitou, or Normandy, or Brittany. It is said that all the manufactures
of Paris are being removed by degrees to these distant provinces.

Father: And naturally so. Not being able to sell firewood and
provisions, the people of these provinces have ceased to produce them
beyond what their own wants call for. The time and capital at their
disposal are devoted to making for themselves those articles with which
we were in use to furnish them.

Son: Just as at Paris they have given up the manufacture of elegant
dress and furniture, and betaken themselves to the planting of trees,
and the rearing of pigs and cows. Although still young, I have lived
to see vast warehouses, sumptuous quarters of the city, and quays once
teeming with life and animation on the banks of the Seine, turned into
meadows and copses.

Father: While towns are spread over the provinces, Paris is turned into
green fields. What a deplorable revolution! And this terrible calamity
has been brought upon us by three magistrates, backed by public

Son: Pray relate to me the history of this change.

Father: It is short and simple. Under pretext of planting in Paris three
new branches of industry, and by this means giving employment to the
working classes, these men got the commune to prohibit the entry into
Paris of firewood, butter, and meat. They claimed for themselves the
right of providing for their fellow-citizens. These commodities rose at
first to exorbitant prices. No one earned enough to procure them, and
the limited number of those who could procure them spent all their
income on them, and had no longer the means of buying anything else. A
check was thus given to all other branches of industry and production,
and all the more quickly that the provinces no longer afforded a market.
Poverty, death, and emigration then began to depopulate Paris.

Son: And when is this to stop?

Father: When Paris has become a forest and a prairie.

Son: The three magistrates must have made a large fortune?

Father: At first they realized enormous profits, but at length they fell
into the common poverty.

Son: How did that happen?

Father: Look at that ruin. That was a magnificent man-sion-house
surrounded with a beautiful park. If Paris had continued to progress,
Master Peter would have realized more interest than his entire capital
now amounts to.

Son: How can that be, seeing he has got rid of competition?

Father: Competition in selling has disappeared, but competition in
buying has disappeared also, and will continue every day to disappear
more and more until Paris becomes a bare field, and until the copses of
Master Peter have no more value than the copses of an equal extent of
land in the Forest of Bondy. It is thus that monopoly, like every other
system of injustice, carries in itself its own punishment.

Son: That appears to me not very clear, but the decadence of Paris is
an incontestable fact. Is there no means, then, of counteracting this
singular measure that Peter and his colleagues got adopted twenty years

Father: I am going to tell you a secret. I remain in Paris on purpose. I
shall call in the people to my assistance. It rests with them to replace
the octroi on its ancient basis, and get quit of that fatal principle
which was engrafted on it, and which still vegetates there like a
parasitical fungus.

Son: You must succeed in this at once.

Father: On the contrary, the work will be difficult and laborious.
Peter, Paul, and John understand one another marvellously. They will do
anything rather than allow firewood, butter, and butchers' meat to
enter Paris. They have on their side the people, who see clearly the
employment which these three protected branches of industry afford.
They know well to what extent the cowfeeders and wood-merchants give
employment to labour; but they have by no means the same exact idea of
the labour which would be developed in the open air of liberty.

Son: If that is all, you will soon enlighten them.

Father: At your age, my son, no doubts arise. If I write, the people
will not read; for, to support their miserable existence, they have not
much time at their disposal. If I speak, the magistrates will shut
my mouth. The people, therefore, will long remain under their fatal
mistake. Political parties, whose hopes are founded on popular passions,
will set themselves, not to dissipate their prejudices, but to make
merchandise of them. I shall have to combat at one and the same time the
great men of the day, the people, and their leaders. In truth, I see a
frightful storm ready to burst over the head of the bold man who shall
venture to protest against an iniquity so deeply rooted in this country.

Son: You will have truth and justice on your side.

Father: And they will have force and calumny on theirs. Were I but young
again! but age and suffering have exhausted my strength.

Son: Very well, father; what strength remains to you, devote to the
service of the country. Begin this work of enfranchisement, and leave to
me the care of finishing it.

Scene IV.--The Agitation.

Jacques Bonhomme: Parisians, let us insist upon a reform of the octroi
duties; let us demand that they be instantly brought down to the
former rate. Let every citizen be free to buy his firewood, butter, and
butchers' meat where he sees fit.

The People: Vive, vive la Liberté!

Peter: Parisians, don't allow yourselves to be seduced by that word,
liberty. What good can result from liberty to purchase if you want the
means--in other words, if you are out of employment? Can Paris produce
firewood as cheaply as the Forest of Bondy? meat as cheaply as Poitou?
butter as cheaply as Normandy? If you open your gates freely to these
rival products, what will become of the cowfeeders, woodcutters, and
pork-butchers? They cannot dispense with protection.

The People: Vive, vive la Protection!

Jacques Bonhomme: Protection! but who protects you workmen? Do you not
compete with one another? Let the wood-merchants, then, be subject to
competition in their turn. They ought not to have right by law to raise
the price of firewood, unless the rate of wages is also raised by law.
Are you no longer in love with equality?

The People: Vive, vive l'Egalité!

Peter: Don't listen to these agitators. We have, it is true, raised the
price of firewood, butchers' meat, and butter; but we have done so for
the express purpose of being enabled to give good wages to the workmen.
We are actuated by motives of charity.

The People: Vive, vive la Charité!

Jacques Bonhomme. Cause the rate of wages to be raised by the octroi, if
you can, or cease by the same means to raise the prices of commodities.
We Parisians ask for no charity--we demand justice.

The People: Vive, vive la Justice!

Peter: It is precisely the high price of commodities which will lead,
_par ricochet_, to a rise of wages.

The People: Vive, vive la Cherté!

Jacques Bonhomme: If butter is dear, it is not because you pay high
wages to the workmen, it is not even because you make exorbitant
profits; it is solely because Paris is ill-adapted for that branch of
industry; it is because you wish to make in the town what should be made
in the country, and in the country what should be made in the town.
The people have not more employment--only they have employment of a
different kind. They have no higher wages; while they can no longer buy
commodities as cheaply as formerly.

The People: Vive, vive le Bon Marché!

Peter: This man seduces you with fine words. Let us place the question
before you in all its simplicity. Is it, or is it not, true, that if we
admit firewood, meat, and butter freely or at a lower duty, our markets
will be inundated? Believe me there is no other means of preserving
ourselves from this new species of invasion but to keep the door shut,
and so maintain the prices of commodities by rendering them artificially

Some Voices in the Crowd: Vive, vive la Rareté!

Jacques Bonhomme: Let us bring the question to the simple test of truth.
You cannot divide among the people of Paris commodities which are not
in Paris. If there be less meat, less firewood, less butter, the share
falling to each will be smaller. Now there must be less if we prohibit
what should be allowed to enter the city. Parisians, abundance for each
of you can be secured only by general abundance.

The People: Vive, vive l'Abondance!

Peter: It is in vain that this man tries to persuade you that it is your
interest to be subjected to unbridled competition.

The People: A bas, à bas la Concurrence!

Jacques Bonhomme: It is in vain that this man tries to make you fall in
love with restriction.

The People: A bas, à bas la Restriction!

Peter: I declare, for my own part, if you deprive the poor cowfeeders
and pig-drivers of their daily bread, I can no longer be answerable for
public order. Workmen, distrust that man. He is the agent of perfidious
Normandy, and derives his inspiration from the provinces. He is a
traitor; down with him! (The people preserve silence.)

Jacques Bonhomme: Parisians, what I have told you to-day,

I told you twenty years ago, when Peter set himself to work the octroi
for his own profit and to your detriment. I am not, then, the agent of
Normandy. Hang me up, if you will, but that will not make oppression
anything else than oppression. Friends, it is not Jacques or Peter that
you must put an end to, but liberty if you fear it, or restriction if it
does you harm.

The People: Hang nobody, and set everybody free.


"What is restriction?"

"It is partial prohibition."

"What is prohibition?"

"Absolute restriction."

"So that what holds true of the one, holds true of the other?"

"Yes; the difference is only one of degree. There is between them the
same relation as there is between a circle and the arc of a circle."

"Then, if prohibition is bad, restriction cannot be good?"

"No more than the arc can be correct if the circle is irregular."

"What is the name which is common to restriction and prohibition?"


"What is the definitive effect of protection?"

"To exact from men _a greater amount of labour for the same result_."

"Why are men attached to the system of protection?"

"Because as liberty enables us to obtain the same result with less
labour, this apparent diminution of employment frightens them."

"Why do you say apparent?"

"Because _all labour saved can be applied to something else_."

"To what?"

"That I cannot specify, nor is there any need to specify it."


"Because if the sum of satisfactions which the country at present enjoys
could be obtained with one-tenth less labour, no one can enumerate the
new enjoyments which men would desire to obtain from the labour left
disposable. One man would desire to be better clothed, another better
fed, another better educated, another better amused."

"Explain to me the mechanism and the effects of protection."

"That is not an easy matter. Before entering on consideration of the
more complicated cases, we must study it in a very simple one."

"Take as simple a case as you choose."

"You remember how Robinson Crusoe managed to make a plank when he had no

"Yes; he felled a tree, and then, cutting the trunk right and left with
his hatchet, he reduced it to the thickness of a board."

"And that cost him much labour?"

"Fifteen whole days' work."

"And what did he live on during that time?"

"He had provisions."

"What happened to the hatchet?"

"It was blunted by the work."

"Yes; but you perhaps do not know this: that at the moment when Robinson
was beginning the work he perceived a plank thrown by the tide upon the

"Happy accident! he of course ran to appropriate it?"

"That was his first impulse; but he stopped short, and began to reason
thus with himself:--

"'If I appropriate this plank, it will cost me only the trouble of
carrying it, and the time needed to descend and remount the cliff.

"'But if I form a plank with my hatchet, first of all, it will procure
me fifteen days' employment; then my hatchet will get blunt, which will
furnish me with the additional employment of sharpening it; then I
shall consume my stock of provisions, which will be a third source of
employment in replacing them. Now, _labour is wealth_. It is clear that
I should ruin myself by appropriating the shipwrecked plank. I must
protect my _personal labour_; and, now that I think of it, I can even
increase that labour by throwing back the other plank into the sea.'"

"But this reasoning was absurd."

"No doubt. It is nevertheless the reasoning of every nation which
protects itself by prohibition. It throws back the plank which is
offered it in exchange for a small amount of labour in order to exert
a greater amount of labour. It is not in the labour of the Customhouse
officials that it discovers a gain. That gain is represented by the
pains which Robinson takes to render back to the waves the gift which
they had offered him. Consider the nation as a collective being, and
you will not find between its reasoning and that of Robinson an atom of

"Did Robinson not see that he could devote the time saved to _something

"What else?"

"As long as a man has wants to satisfy and time at his disposal, there
is always something to be done. I am not bound to specify the kind of
labour he would in such a case undertake."

"I see clearly what labour he could have escaped."

"And I maintain that Robinson, with incredible blindness, confounded the
labour with its result, the end with the means, and I am going to prove
to you..."

"There is no need. Here we have the system of restriction or prohibition
in its simplest form. If it appear to you absurd when so put, it is
because the two capacities of producer and consumer are in this case
mixed up in the same individual."

"Let us pass on, therefore, to a more complicated example."

"With all my heart. Some time afterwards, Robinson having met with
Friday, they united their labour in a common work. In the morning they
hunted for six hours, and brought home four baskets of game. In the
evening they worked in the garden for six hours, and obtained four
baskets of vegetables.

"One day a canoe touched at the island. A good-looking foreigner
landed, and was admitted to the table of our two recluses. He tasted and
commended very much the produce of the garden, and before taking leave
of his entertainers, spoke as follows:--

"'Generous islanders, I inhabit a country where game is much more
plentiful than here, but where horticulture is quite unknown. It would
be an easy matter to bring you every evening four baskets of game, if
you would give me in exchange two baskets of vegetables.'

"At these words Robinson and Friday retired to consult, and the argument
that passed is too interesting not to be reported _in extenso_.

"Friday: What do you think of it?

"Robinson: If we close with the proposal, we are ruined.

"F.: Are you sure of that? Let us consider.

"R.: The case is clear. Crushed by competition, our hunting as a branch
of industry is annihilated.

"F.: What matters it, if we have the game?

"R.: Theory! it will no longer be the product of our labour.

"F.: I beg your pardon, sir; for in order to have game we must part with

"R.: Then, what shall we gain?

"F.:. The four baskets of game cost us six hours' work. The foreigner
gives us them in exchange for two baskets of vegetables, which cost us
only three hours' work. This places three hours at our disposal.

"R.: Say, rather, which are substracted from our exertions. In this will
consist our loss. _Labour is wealth_, and if we lose a fourth part of
our time, we shall be less rich by a fourth.

"F.: You are greatly mistaken, my good friend. We shall have as much
game, and the same quantity of vegetables, and three hours at our
disposal into the bargain. This is progress, or there is no such thing
in-the world.

"R.: You lose yourself in generalities! What should we make of these
three hours?

"F.: We would do _something else_.

"R.: Ah! I understand you. You cannot come to particulars. Something
else, something else--this is easily said.

"F.: We can fish, we can ornament our cottage, we can read the Bible.

"R.: Utopia! Is there any certainty that we should do either the one or
the other?

"F.: Very well, if we have no wants to satisfy we can rest. Is repose

"R.: But while we repose we may die of hunger.

"F.: My dear friend, you have got into a vicious circle. I speak of
a repose which will subtract nothing from our supply of game and
vegetables. You always forget that by means of our _foreign trade_
nine hours' labour will give us the same quantity of provisions that we
obtain at present with twelve.

"R: It is very evident, Friday, that you have not been educated in
Europe, and that you have never read the _Moniteur Industriel_. If you
had, it would have taught you this: that all time saved is sheer loss.
The important thing is not to eat or consume, but to work. All that
we consume, if it is not the direct produce of our labour, goes for
nothing. Do you want to know whether you are rich? Never consider the
satisfactions you enjoy, but the labour you undergo. This is what
the _Moniteur Industriel_ would teach you. For myself, who have no
pretensions to be a theorist, the only thing I look at is the loss of
our hunting.

"F.: What a strange conglomeration of ideas! but...

"R.: I will have no buts. Moreover, there are political reasons for
rejecting the interested offers of the perfidious foreigner.

"F.: Political reasons!

"R.: Yes, he only makes us these offers because they are advantageous to

"F.: So much the better, since they are for our advantage likewise.

"R.: Then by this traffic we should place ourselves in a situation of
dependence upon him.

"F.: And he would place himself in dependence on us. We should have need
of his game, and he of our vegetables, and we should live on terms of

"R.: System! Do you want me to shut your mouth?

"F.: We shall see about that. I have as yet heard no good reason.

"R.: Suppose the foreigner learns to cultivate a garden, and that his
island should prove more fertile than ours. Do you see the consequence?

"F.: Yes; our relations with the foreigner would cease. He would send us
no more vegetables, since he could have them at home with less labour.
He would take no more game from us, since we should have nothing to give
him in exchange, and we should then be in precisely the situation that
you wish us in now.

"R.: Improvident savage! You don't see that after having annihilated our
hunting by inundating us with game, he would annihilate our gardening by
inundating us with vegetables.

"F.: But this would only last till we were in a situation to give him
_something else_; that is to say, until we found something else which we
could produce with economy of labour for ourselves.

"R. Something else, something else! You always come back to that. You
are at sea, my good friend Friday; there is nothing practical in your

"The debate was long prolonged, and, as often happens, each remained
wedded to his own opinion. But Robinson possessing a great ascendant
over Friday, his opinion prevailed, and when the foreigner arrived to
demand a reply, Robinson said to him--

"' Stranger, in order to induce us to accept your proposal, we must be
assured of two things:

"' The first is, that your island is no better stocked with game than
ours, for we want to fight only with _equal weapons_.

"' The second is, that you will lose by the bargain. For, as in every
exchange there is necessarily a gaining and a losing party, we should be
dupes, if you were not the loser. What have you got to say?'

"' Nothing,' replied the foreigner; and, bursting out a-laugh-ing, he
regained his canoe."

"The story would not be amiss, if Robinson were not made to argue so
very absurdly."

"He does not argue more absurdly than the committee of the Rue

"Oh! the case is very different. Sometimes you suppose one man, and
sometimes (which comes to the same thing) two men working in company.
That does not tally with the actual state of things. The division of
labour and the intervention of merchants and money change the state of
the question very much."

"That may complicate transactions, but does not change their nature."

"What! you want to compare modern commerce with a system of barter."

"Trade is nothing but a multiplicity of barters. Barter is in its own
nature identical with commerce, just as labour on a small scale is
identical with labour on a great scale, or as the law of gravitation
which moves an atom is identical with that same law of gravitation which
moves a world."

"So, according to you, these arguments, which are so untenable in
the mouth of Robinson, are equally untenable when urged by our

"Yes; only the error is better concealed under a complication of

"Then, pray, let us have an example taken from the present order of

"With pleasure. In France, owing to the exigencies of climate and
habits, cloth is a useful thing. Is the essential thing to _make it_, or
to _get it?_"

"A very sensible question, truly! In order to have it, you must make

"Not necessarily. To have it, some one must make it, that is certain;
but it is not at all necessary that the same person or the same country
which consumes it should also produce it. You have not made that stuff
which clothes you so well. France does not produce the coffee on which
our citizens breakfast."

"But I buy my cloth, and France her coffee."

"Exactly so; and with what?"

"With money."

"But neither you nor France produce the material of money."

"We buy it."

"With what?"

"With our products, which are sent to Peru."

"It is then, in fact, your labour which you exchange for cloth, and
French labour which is exchanged for coffee."


"It is not absolutely necessary, therefore, to manufacture what you

"No; if we manufacture something else which we give in exchange."

"In other words, France has two means of procuring a given quantity of
cloth. The first is to make it; the second is to make something else,
and to exchange this something else with the foreigner for cloth. Of
these two means, which is the best?"

"I don't very well know."

"Is it not that which, _for a determinate amount of labour, obtains the
greater quantity of cloth?_"

"It seems so."

"And which is best for a nation, to have the choice between these two
means, or that the law should prohibit one of them, on the chance of
stumbling on the better of the two?"

"It appears to me that it is better for the nation to have the choice,
inasmuch as in such matters it invariably chooses right."

"The law, which prohibits the importation of foreign cloth, decides,
then, that if France wishes to have cloth, she must make it in kind,
and that she is prohibited from making the something else with which she
could purchase foreign cloth."


"And as the law obliges us to make the cloth, and forbids our making the
something else, precisely because that something else would exact less
labour (but for which reason the law would not interfere with it) the
law virtually decrees that for a determinate amount of labour, France
shall only have one yard of cloth, when for the same amount of labour
she might have two yards, by applying that labour to something else!"
"But the question recurs, 'What else?"

"And my question recurs, 'What does it signify?' Having the choice, she
will only make the something else to such an extent as there may be a
demand for it."

"That is possible; but I cannot divest myself of the idea that the
foreigner will send us his cloth, and not take from us the something
else, in which case we would be entrapped. At all events, this is the
objection even from your own point of view. You allow that France could
make this something else to exchange for cloth, with a less expenditure
of labour than if she had made the cloth itself?"


"There would, then, be a certain amount of her labour rendered inert?"

"Yes; but without her being less well provided with clothes, a little
circumstance which makes all the difference. Robinson lost sight of
this, and our protectionists either do not see it, or pretend not to
see it. The shipwrecked plank rendered fifteen days of Robinson's labour
inert, in as far as that labour was applied to making a plank, but it
did not deprive him of it. Discriminate, then, between these two kinds
of diminished labour--the diminution which has for effect privation,
and that which has for its cause satisfaction. These two things are very
different, and if you mix them up, you reason as Robinson did. In the
most complicated, as in the most simple cases, the sophism consists in
this: _Judging of the utility of labour by its duration and intensity,
and not by its results_; which gives rise to this economic policy: _To
reduce the results of labour for the purpose of augmenting its duration
and intensity_." *

     * See ch. ii. and iii. of _Sophimes_, first series; and
     _Harmonies Économiques_, ch. vi.


If any one tells you that there are no absolute principles, no
inflexible rules; that prohibition may be bad and yet that restriction
may be good,

Reply: "Restriction prohibits all that it hinders from being imported.":

If any one says that agriculture is the nursing-mother of the country,

Reply: "What nourishes the country is not exactly agriculture, but

If any one tells you that the basis of the food of the people is

Reply: "The basis of the people's food is corn. This is the reason why
a law which gives us, by agricultural labour, two quarters of corn, when
we could have obtained four quarters without such labour, and by means
of labour applied to manufactures, is a law not for feeding, but for
starving the people." If any one remarks that restriction upon the
importation of foreign corn gives rise to a more extensive culture, and
consequently to increased home production,

Reply: "It induces men to sow grain on comparatively barren and
ungrateful soils. To milk a cow and go on milking her, puts a little
more into the pail, for it is difficult to say when you will come to the
last drop. But that drop costs dear."

If any one tells you that when bread is dear, the agriculturist, having
become rich, enriches the manufacturer,

Reply: "Bread is dear when it is scarce, and then men are poor, or, if
you like it better, they become rich _starvelings_."

If you are further told that when bread gets dearer, wages rise, Reply
by pointing out that, in April 1847, five-sixths of our workmen were
receiving charity,

If you are told that the wages of labour should rise with the increased
price of provisions,

Reply: "This is as much as to say that in a ship without provisions,
everybody will have as much biscuit as if the vessel were fully

If you are told that it is necessary to secure a good price to the man
who sells corn,

Reply: "That in that case it is also necessary to secure good wages to
the man who buys it."

If it is said that the proprietors, who make the laws, have raised the
price of bread, without taking thought about wages, because they know
that when bread rises, wages naturally rise, Reply: "Upon the same
principle, when the workmen come to make the laws, don't blame them
if they fix a high rate of wages without busying themselves about
protecting corn, because they know that when wages rise, provisions
naturally rise also."

If you are asked what, then, is to be done?

Reply: "Be just to everybody."

If you are told that it is essential that every great country should
produce iron,

Reply: "What is essential is, that every great country should have

If you are told that it is indispensable that every great country should
produce cloth,

Reply: "The indispensable thing is, that the citizens of every great
country should have cloth."

If it be said that labour is wealth,

Reply: "This is not true."

And, by way of improvement, add: "Phlebotomy is not health, and the
proof of it is that bleeding is resorted to for the purpose of restoring

If it is said: "To force men to cultivate rocks, and extract an ounce
of iron from a hundredweight of ore, is to increase their labour and
consequently their wealth,"

Reply: "To force men to dig wells by prohibiting them from taking water
from the brook, is to increase their _useless labour_, but not their

If you are told that the sun gives you his heat and light without

Reply: "So much the better for me, for it costs me nothing to see

And if you are answered that industry in general loses what would have
been paid for artificial light,

Rejoin; "No; for having paid nothing to the sun, what he saves me
enables me to buy clothes, furniture, and candles."

In the same way, if you are told that these rascally English possess
capital which is dormant,

Reply: "So much the better for us; they will not make us pay interest
for it."

If it is said: "These perfidious English find coal and iron in the same

Reply: "So much the better for us; they will charge us nothing for
bringing them together."

If you are told that the Swiss have rich pasturages, which cost little:

Reply: "The advantage is ours, for they will demand a smaller amount
of our labour in return for giving an impetus to our agriculture, and
supplying us with provisions."

If they tell you that the lands of the Crimea have no value, and pay no

Reply: "The profit is ours, who buy corn free from such charges."

If they tell you that the serfs of Poland work without wages,

Reply: "The misfortune is theirs and the profit is ours, since their
labour does not enter into the price of the corn which their masters
sell us."

Finally, if they tell you that other nations have many advantages over

Reply: "By means of exchange, they are forced to allow us to participate
in these advantages."

If they tell you that under free-trade we are about to be inundated with
bread, _bouf à la mode_, coal, and winter clothing, Reply: "In that case
we shall be neither hungry nor thirsty."

If they ask how we are to pay for these things?

Reply: "Don't let that disquiet you. If we are inundated, it is a sign
we have the means of paying for the inundation; and if we have not the
means of paying, we shall not be inundated."

If any one says: I should approve of free-trade, if the foreigner, in
sending us his products, would take our products in exchange; but he
carries off our money,

Reply: "Neither money nor coffee grows in the fields of Beauce, nor are
they turned out by the workshops of Elbeuf. So far as we are concerned,
to pay the foreigner with money is the same thing as paying him with

If they bid you eat butcher's meat,

Reply: "Allow it to be imported."

If they say to you, in the words of the _Presse_, "When one has not the
means to buy bread, he is forced to buy beef," Reply: "This is advice
quite as judicious as that given by M. Vautour to his tenant:

     "'Quand on n'a pas de quoi payer son terme,
     Il faut avoir une maison à soi.'"

If, again, they say to you, in the words of _La Presse_, "The government
should teach the people how and why they must eat beef,"

Reply: "The government has only to allow the beef to be imported, and
the most civilized people in the world will know how to use it without
being taught by a master."

If they tell you that the government should know everything, and foresee
everything, in order to direct the people, and that the people have
simply to allow themselves to be led, Reply by asking: "Is there a state
apart from the people? is there a human foresight apart from humanity?
Archimedes might repeat every day of his life, 'With a fulcrum and lever
I can move the world;' but he never did move it, for want of a fulcrum
and lever. The lever of the state is the nation; and nothing can be more
foolish than to found so many hopes upon the state, which is simply
to take for granted the existence of collective science and foresight,
after having set out with the assumption of individual imbecility and

If any one says, "I ask no favour, but only such a duty on bread and
meat as shall compensate the heavy taxes to which I am subjected; only a
small duty equal to what the taxes add to the cost price of my corn,"

Reply: "A thousand pardons; but I also pay taxes. If, then, the
protection which you vote in your own favour has the effect of burdening
me as a purchaser of corn with exactly your share of the taxes, your
modest demand amounts to nothing less than establishing this arrangement
as formulated by you:

Seeing that the public charges are heavy, I, as a seller of corn, am
to pay nothing, and you my neighbour, as a buyer of corn, are to
pay double, viz., your own share and mine into the bargain.' Mr
Corn-merchant, my good friend, you may have force at your command, but
assuredly you have not reason on your side."

If any one says to you, "It is, however, exceedingly hard upon me, who
pay taxes, to have to compete in my own market with the foreigner, who
pays none,


"1st, In the first place, it is not your market, but our market. I who
live upon corn and pay for it, should surely be taken into account.

"2d, Few foreigners at the present day are exempt from taxes.

"3d, If the taxes you vote yield you in roads, canals, security, etc.,
more than they cost you, you are not justified in repelling, at my
expense, the competition of foreigners, who, if they do not pay taxes,
have not the advantages you enjoy in roads, canals, and security. You
might as well say, 'I demand a compensating duty because I have finer
clothes, stronger horses, and better ploughs than the hard-working
peasant of Russia.'

"4th, If the tax does not repay you for what it costs, don't vote it.

"5th, In short, after having voted the tax, do you wish to get free from
it? Try to frame a law which will throw it on the foreigner. But your
tariff makes your share of it fall upon me, who have already my own
burden to bear."

If any one says, "For the Russians free-trade is necessary to enable
them to exchange their products with advantage," (Opinion de M. Thiers
dans les Bureaux, April 1847),

Reply: "Liberty is necessary everywhere, and for the same reason."

If you are told, "Each country has its wants, and we must be guided by
that in what we do." (M. Thiers),

Reply: "Each country acts thus of its own accord, if you don't throw
obstacles in the way."

If they tell you, "We have no sheet-iron, and we must allow it to be
imported," (M. Thiers),

Reply: "Many thanks."

If you are told, "We have no freights for our merchant shipping.
The want of return cargoes prevents our shipping from competing with
foreigners," (M. Thiers),

Reply: "When a country wishes to have everything produced at home, there
can be no freights either for exports or imports. It is just as absurd
to desire to have a mercantile marine under a system of prohibition, as
it would be to have carts when there is nothing to carry."

If you are told that assuming protection to be unjust, everything has
been arranged on that footing; capital has been embarked; rights have
been acquired; and the system cannot be changed without suffering to
individuals and classes,

Reply: "All injustice is profitable to somebody (except, perhaps,
restriction, which in the long run benefits no one). To argue from the
derangement which the cessation of injustice may occasion to the man who
profits by it, is as much as to say that a system of injustice, for no
other reason than that it has had a temporary existence, ought to exist
for ever."


Report Addressed to the King.


When we observe these free-trade advocates boldly-disseminating their
doctrines, and maintaining that the right of buying and selling is
implied in the right of property (as has been urged by M. Billault
in the true style of a special pleader), we may be permitted to feel
serious alarm as to the fate of our national labour; for what would
Frenchmen make of their heads and their hands were they left to their
own resources?

The administration which you have honoured with your confidence has
turned its attention to this grave state of things, and has sought
in its wisdom to discover a species of _protection_ which may be
substituted for that which appears to be getting out of repute. They
propose a _law to prohibit your faithful SUBJECTS FROM USING THEIR RIGHT

Sire, we beseech you not to do us the injustice of supposing that we
have adopted lightly and without due deliberation a measure which at
first sight may appear somewhat whimsical. A profound study of the
system of protection has taught us this syllogism, upon which the whole
doctrine reposes:

The more men work, the richer they become;

The more difficulties there are to be overcome, the more work;

Ergo, the more difficulties there are to be overcome, the richer they

In fact, what is protection, if it is not an ingenious application
of this reasoning--reasoning so close and conclusive as to balk the
subtlety of M. Billault himself?

Let us personify the country, and regard it as a collective being with
thirty millions of mouths, and, as a natural consequence, with sixty
millions of hands. Here is a man who makes a French clock, which he can
exchange in Belgium for ten hundredweights of iron. But we tell him to
make the iron himself. He replies, "I cannot, it would occupy too much
of my time; I should produce only five hundredweights of iron during the
time I am occupied in making a clock." Utopian dreamer, we reply, that
is the very reason why we forbid you to make the clock, and order you to
make the iron. Don't you see we are providing employment for you?

Sire, it cannot have escaped your sagacity that this is exactly the same
thing in effect as if we were to say to the country, "Work with your
left hand, and not with the right."

To create obstacles in order to furnish labour with an opportunity of
developing itself, was the principle of the old system of restriction,
and it is the principle likewise of the new system which is now being
inaugurated. Sire, to regulate industry in this way is not to innovate,
but to persevere.

As regards the efficiency of the measure, it is incontestable. It is
difficult, much more difficult than one would suppose, to do with the
left hand what we have been accustomed to do with the right. You will
be convinced of this, Sire, if you will condescend to make trial of our
system in a process which must be familiar to you; as, for example, in
shuffling a pack of cards. For this reason, we flatter ourselves that we
are opening to labour an unlimited career.

When workmen in all departments of industry are thus confined to the use
of the left hand, we may figure to ourselves, Sire, the immense number
of people that will be wanted to supply the present consumption,
assuming it to continue invariable, as we always do when we compare two
different systems of production with one another. So prodigious a demand
for manual labour cannot fail to induce a great rise of wages, and
pauperism will disappear as if by enchantment.

Sire, your paternal heart will rejoice to think that this new law of
ours will extend its benefits to that interesting part of the community
whose destinies engage all your solicitude. What is the present destiny
of women in France? The bolder and more hardy sex drives them insensibly
out of every department of industry.

Formerly, they had the resource of the lottery offices. These offices
have been shut up by a pitiless philanthropy, and on what pretext? "To
save the money of the poor." Alas! the poor man never obtained for a
piece of money enjoyments as sweet and innocent as those afforded by the
mysterious urn of fortune. Deprived of all the enjoyments of life, when
he, fortnight after fortnight, put a day's wages on the _quaterne_, how
many delicious hours did he afford his family! Hope was always present
at his fireside. The garret was peopled with illusions. The wife hoped
to rival her neighbours in her style of living; the son saw himself the
drum-major of a regiment; and the daughter fancied herself led to the
altar by her betrothed.

     "C'est quelque chose encor que de faire un beau rêve!"

The lottery was the poetry of the poor, and we have lost it.

The lottery gone, what means have we of providing for our _protégées?_
Tobacco-shops and the post-office.

Tobacco, all right; its use progresses, thanks to the _distinguées_
habits, which august examples have skilfully introduced among our
fashionable youth.

The post-office!... We shall say nothing of it, as we mean to make it
the subject of a special report.

Except, then, the sale of tobacco, what employment remains for your
female subjects? Embroidery, network, and sewing,--melancholy resources,
which the barbarous science of mechanics goes on limiting more and more.

But the moment your new law comes into operation, the moment right hands
are amputated or tied up, the face of everything will be changed.
Twenty times, thirty times, a greater number of embroiderers, polishers,
laundresses, seamstresses, milliners, shirtmakers, will not be
sufficient to supply the wants of the kingdom, always assuming, as
before, the consumption to be the same.

This assumption may very likely be disputed by some cold theorists, for
dress and everything else will then be dearer. The same thing may be
said of the iron which we extract from our own mines, compared with
the iron we could obtain in exchange for our wines. This argument,
therefore, does not tell more against gaucherie than against protection,
for this very dearness is the effect and the sign of an excess of work
and exertion, which is precisely the basis upon which, in both cases, we
contend that the prosperity of the working classes is founded.

Yes, we shall be favoured soon with a touching picture of the prosperity
of the millinery business. What movement! What activity! What life!
Every dress will occupy a hundred fingers, instead of ten. No young
woman will be idle, and we have no need, Sire, to indicate to your
perspicacity the moral consequences of this great revolution. Not only
will there be more young women employed, but each of them will earn
more, for they will be unable to supply the demand; and if competition
shall again show itself, it will not be among the seamstresses who make
the dresses, but among the fine ladies who wear them.

You must see then, Sire, that our proposal is not only in strict
conformity with the economic traditions of the government, but is in
itself essentially moral and popular.

To appreciate its effects, let us suppose the law passed and in
operation,--let us transport ourselves in imagination into the
future,--and assume the new system to have been in operation for
twenty years. Idleness is banished from the country; ease and concord,
contentment and morality, have, with employment, been introduced into
every family--no more poverty, no more vice. The left hand being very
visible in all work, employment will be abundant, and the remuneration
adequate. Everything is arranged on this footing, and the workshops in
consequence are full. If, in such circumstances, Sire, Utopian dreamers
were all at once to agitate for the right hand being again set free,
would they not throw the whole country into alarm? Would such a
pretended reform not overturn the whole existing state of things? Then
our system must be good, since it could not be put an end to without
universal suffering.

And yet we confess we have the melancholy presentiment (so great is
human perversity) that some day there will be formed an association for
right-hand freedom.

We think that already we hear the free Dexterities, assembled in the
Salle Montesquieu, holding this language:--

"Good people, you think yourselves richer because the use of one of
your hands has been denied you; you take account only of the additional
employment which that brings you. But consider also the high prices
which result from it, and the forced diminution of consumption. That
measure has not made capital more abundant, and capital is the fund from
which wages are paid. The streams which flow from that great reservoir
are directed towards other channels; but their volume is not enlarged;
and the ultimate effect, as far as the nation at large is concerned, is
the loss of all that wealth which millions of right hands could produce,
compared with what is now produced by an equal number of left hands.
At the risk of some inevitable derangements, then, let us form an
association, and enforce our right to work with both hands."

Fortunately, Sire, an association has been formed in defence of
left-hand labour, and the Sinistristes will have no difficulty in
demolishing all these generalities, suppositions, abstractions,
reveries, and utopias. They have only to exhume the Moniteur Industriel
for 1846, and they will find ready-made arguments against freedom Of
trade, which refute so admirably all that has been urged in favour of
right-hand liberty that it is only necessary to substitute the one word
for the other.

"The Parisian free-trade league has no doubt of securing the concurrence
of the workmen. But the workmen are no longer men who can be led by the
nose. They have their eyes open, and they know political economy
better than our professors. Free trade, they say, will deprive us of
employment, and labour is our wealth. With employment, with abundant
employment, the price of commodities never places them beyond our reach.
Without employment, were bread at a halfpenny a pound, the workman would
die of hunger. Now your doctrines, instead of increasing the present
amount of employment, would diminish it, that is to say, would reduce us
to poverty.

"When there are too many commodities in the market, their price falls,
no doubt. But as wages always fall when commodities are cheap, the
result is that, instead of being in a situation to purchase more, we are
no longer able to buy anything. It is when commodities are cheap that
the workman is worst off."

It will not be amiss for the Sinistristes to intermingle some menaces
with their theories. Here is a model for them:--"What! you desire to
substitute right-hand for left-hand labour, and thus force down, or
perhaps annihilate wages, the sole resource of the great bulk of the

"And, at a time when a deficient harvest is imposing painful privations
on the workman, you wish to disquiet him as to his future, and render
him more accessible to bad advice, and more ready to abandon that wise
line of conduct which has hitherto distinguished him."

After such conclusive reasoning as this, we entertain a confident hope,
Sire, that if the battle is once begun, the left hand will come off

Perhaps an association may be formed for the purpose of inquiring
whether the right hand and the left are not both wrong, and whether a
third hand cannot be found to conciliate everybody.

After having depicted the Dexteristes as seduced by the apparent
liberality of a principle, the soundness of which experience has not
yet verified and the Sinistristes as maintaining the position they have
gained, they go on to say:--

"We deny that there is any third position which it is possible to take
up in the midst of the battle! Is it not evident that the workmen have
to defend themselves at one and the same time against those who desire
to change nothing in the present situation, because they find their
account in it, and against those who dream of an economic revolution of
which they have calculated neither the direction nor the extent?"

We cannot, however, conceal from your Majesty that our project has a
vulnerable side; for it may be said that twenty years hence left hands
will be as skilful as right hands are at present, and that then
you could no longer trust to gaucherie for an increase of national

To that we reply, that according to the most learned physicians the left
side of the body has a natural feebleness, which is quite reassuring as
regards the labour of the future.

Should your Majesty consent to pass the measure now proposed, a great
principle will be established: All wealth proceeds from the intensity
of labour. It will be easy for us to extend and vary the applications of
this principle. We may decree, for example, that it shall no longer be
permissible to work but with the foot; for this is no more impossible
(as we have seen) than to extract iron from the mud of the Seine. You
see then, Sire, that the means of increasing national labour can never
fail. And after all has been tried, we have still the practically
ex-haustless resource of amputation.

To conclude, Sire, if this report were not intended for publicity,
we should take the liberty of soliciting your attention to the great
influence which measures of this kind are calculated to confer on men
in power. But that is a matter which we must reserve for a private


"In the same way that in time of war we attain the mastery by
superiority in arms, do we not, in time of peace, arrive at domination
by superiority in labour?"

This is a question of the highest interest at a time when no doubt seems
to be entertained that in the field of industry, as in the field of
battle, the stronger crushes the weaker.

To arrive at this conclusion, we must have discovered between the labour
which is applied to commodities and the violence exercised upon men, a
melancholy and discouraging analogy; for why should these two kinds
of operations be thought identical in their effects, if they are
essentially different in their own nature?

And if it be true that in industry, as in war, predominance is the
necessary result of superiority, what have we to do with progress or
with social economy, seeing that we inhabit a world where everything
has been so arranged by Providence that one and the same effect--namely,
oppression--proceeds necessarily from two opposite principles?

With reference to England's new policy of commercial freedom, many
persons make this objection, which has, I am convinced, taken possession
of the most candid minds among us: "Is England doing anything else than
pursuing the same end by different means. Does she not always aspire at
universal supremacy? Assured of her superiority in capital and labour,
does she not invite free competition in order to stifle Continental
industry, and so put herself in a situation to reign as a sovereign,
having conquered the privilege of feeding and clothing the population
she has ruined?"

It would not be difficult to demonstrate that these alarms are
chimerical; that our alleged inferiority is much exaggerated; that
our great branches of industry not only maintain their ground, but are
actually developed under the action of external competition, and that
the infallible effect of such competition is to bring about an increase
of general consumption, capable of absorbing both home and foreign

At present, I desire to make a direct answer to the objection, leaving
it all the advantage of the ground chosen by the objectors. Keeping out
of view for the present the special case of England and France, I shall
inquire in a general way whether, when, by its superiority in one branch
of industry, a nation comes to outrival and put down a similar branch of
industry existing among another people, the former has advanced one step
towards domination, or the latter towards dependence; in' other words,
whether both nations do not gain by the operation, and whether it is not
the nation which is outrivalled that gains the most.

If we saw in a product nothing more than an opportunity of bestowing
labour, the alarms of the protectionists would undoubtedly be
well-founded. Were we to consider iron, for example, only in its
relations with ironmasters, we might be led to fear that the competition
of a country where it is the gratuitous gift of nature would extinguish
the furnaces of another country where both ore and fuel are scarce.

But is this a complete view of the subject? Has iron relations only with
those who make it? Has it no relations with those who use it? Is its
sole and ultimate destination to be produced? And if it is useful, not
on account of the labour to which it gives employment, but on account
of the qualities it possesses, of the numerous purposes to which its
durability and malleability adapt it, does it not follow that the
foreigner cannot reduce its price, even so far as to render its
production at home unprofitable, without doing us more good in this last
respect, than harm in the other?

Pray consider how many things there are which foreigners, by reason
of the natural advantages by which they are surrounded, prevent our
producing directly, and with reference to which we are placed in reality
in the hypothetical position we have been examining with reference to
iron. We produce at home neither tea, coffee, gold, nor silver. Is our
industry _en masse_ diminished in consequence? No; only in order to
create the counter-value of these imported commodities, in order to
acquire them by means of exchange, we detach from our national labour
a portion less great than would be required to produce these things
ourselves. More labour thus remains to be devoted to the procuring of
other enjoyments. We are so much the richer and so much the stronger.
All that external competition can do, even in cases where it puts an end
absolutely to a determinate branch of industry, is to economize
labour, and increase our productive power. Is this, in the case of the
foreigner, the road to domination!

If we should find in France a gold mine, it does not follow that it
would be for our interest to work it. Nay, it is certain that the
enterprise would be neglected if each ounce of gold absorbed more of our
labour than an ounce of gold purchased abroad with cloth. In this case
we should do better to find our mines in our workshops. And what is true
of gold is true of iron.

The illusion proceeds from our failure to see one thing, which is, that
foreign superiority never puts a stop to national industry, except under
a determinate form, and under that form only renders it superfluous by
placing at our disposal the result of the very labour thus superseded.
If men lived in diving-bells under water, and had to provide themselves
with air by means of a pump, this would be a great source of employment.
To throw obstacles in the way of such employment, as long as men were
left in this condition would be to inflict upon them a frightful injury.
But if the labour ceases because the necessity for its exertion
no longer exists, because men are placed in a medium where air is
introduced into their lungs without effort, then the loss of that
labour is not to be regretted, except in the eyes of men who obstinately
persist in seeing in labour nothing but labour in the abstract.

It is exactly this kind of labour which machinery, commercial freedom,
progress of every kind, gradually supersedes; not useful labour, but
labour become superfluous, without object, and without result. On the
contrary, protection sets that sort of useless labour to work; it places
us again under water, to bring the air-pump into play; it forces us to
apply for gold to the inaccessible national mine, rather than to
the national workshops. All the effect is expressed by the words,
depredation of forces.

It will be understood that I am speaking here of general effects, not
of the temporary inconvenience which is always caused by the transition
from a bad system to a good one. A momentary derangement accompanies
necessarily all progress. This may be a reason for making the transition
gently and gradually. It is no reason for putting a stop systematically
to all progress, still less for misunderstanding it.

Industry is often represented as a struggle. That is not a true
representation of it, or only true when we confine ourselves to the
consideration of each branch of industry in its effects upon similar
branches, regarding them both in thought apart from the interests of the
rest of mankind. But there is always something else to be considered,
namely, the effects upon consumption, and upon general prosperity.

It is an error to apply to trade, as is but too often done, phrases
which are applicable to war.

In war the stronger overcomes the weaker.

In industry the stronger imparts force to the weaker. This entirely does
away with the analogy.

Let the English be as powerful and skilful as they are represented, let
them be possessed of as large an amount of capital, and have as great
a command of the two great agents of production, iron and fuel, as they
are supposed to have; all this simply means cheapness. And who gains by
the cheapness of products? The man who buys them.

It is not in their power to annihilate any part whatever of our national
labour. All they can do is to render it superfluous in the production of
what is acquired by exchange, to furnish us with air without the aid of
the pump, to enlarge in this way our disposable forces, and so render
their alleged domination as much more impossible as their superiority
becomes more incontestable.

Thus, by a rigorous and consoling demonstration, we arrive at this
conclusion, that labour and violence, which are so opposite in their
nature, are not less so in their effects.

All we are called upon to do is to distinguish between labour
annihilated, and labour economized.

To have less iron because we work less, and to have less iron although
we work less, are things not only different, but opposed to each other.
The protectionists confound them; we do not. That is all.

We may be very certain of one thing, that if the English employ a large
amount of activity, labour, capital, intelligence, and natural forces,
it is not done for show. It is done in order to procure a multitude of
enjoyments in exchange for their products. They most certainly expect
to receive at least as much as they give. _What they produce at home is
destined to pay for what they purchase abroad_. If they inundate us with
their products, it is because they expect to be inundated with ours in
return. That being so, the best means of having much for ourselves is
to be free to choose between these two modes of acquisition, immediate
production, and mediate production. British Machiavelism cannot force us
to make a wrong choice.

Let us give up, then, the puerility of applying to industrial
competition phrases applicable to war,--a way of speaking which is
only specious when applied to competition between two rival trades. The
moment we come to take into account the effect produced on the general
prosperity, the analogy disappears.

In a battle, every one who is killed diminishes by so much the strength
of the army. In industry, a workshop is shut up only when what it
produced is obtained by the public from another source and in greater
abundance. Figure a state of things where for one man killed on the spot
two should rise up full of life and vigour. Were such a state of things
possible, war would no longer merit its name.

This, however, is the distinctive character of what is so absurdly
called industrial war.

Let the Belgians and the English lower the price of their iron ever
so much; let them, if they will, send it to us for nothing; this
might extinguish some of our blast-furnaces; but immediately, and as
a necessary consequence of this very cheapness, there would rise up a
thousand other branches of industry more profitable than the one which
had been superseded.

We arrive, then, at the conclusion that domination by labour is
impossible, and a contradiction in terms, seeing that all superiority
which manifests itself among a people means cheapness, and tends only to
impart force to all other nations. Let us banish, then, from political
economy all terms borrowed from the military vocabulary: to fight with
equal weapons, to conquer, to crush, to stifle, to be beaten, invasion,
tribute, etc. What do such phrases mean? Squeeze them, and you obtain
nothing... Yes, you do obtain something; for from such words proceed
absurd errors, and fatal and pestilent prejudices. Such phrases tend to
arrest the fusion of nations, are inimical to their peaceful, universal,
and indissoluble alliance, and retard the progress of the human race.


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