Obrázky na stránke

Expenses. These, as to workmen and furnishers, have effects absolutely identical with those that follow an equal expense on the part of Mondor. That is self-evident ; let us speak no more of it.

2d, Beneficence. The £500 devoted to this purpose go equally to encourage industry ; they make their way to the baker, the butcher, the clothier, and the furniture dealer. Only the bread, the meat, the clothes, do not directly serve Ariste, but those whom he has put in his place. Now, this simple substitution of one consumer for another does not at all affect the general industry. Whether Ariste spend five shillings himself, or request a man in need to spend them for him, the issue is the same.

3d, Friendly Services. The friend to whom Ariste lends or gives £500 does not receive them to hide them in the ground ; this is inconsistent with the very case supposed. He employs them to buy merchandise or to pay his debts.

In the first case, industry is encouraged. Will any one venture to say that there is more advantage in Mondor's purchase of a thorough-bred horse for £500, than in Ariste's, or his friend's, purchase of £500 worth of stuffs ? But if this sum be employed to pay a debt, all that results is, that a third person comes upon the stage, the creditor, who will receive the £500, but who will certainly employ them in some way in his trade, his workshop, or his manufactory. He is one more intermediary between Ariste and the workmen. The proper names change, the expenditure remains, and the encouragement to industry also.

4th, Savings. There remain the £500 saved ; and it is here that as regards the encouragement of the arts, of industry, of labour, of workmen, Mondor appears greatly superior to Ariste, though, from the moral point of view, Ariste shows himself superior to Mondor.

It is never without a sense of even physical uneasiness, little short of pain, that I see the appearance of such contradictions among the great laws of nature. If humanity were obliged to choose between two courses, of which one offends its interests, and the other its conscience, it would remain for us only to despair of its future. Happily, it is not so. And to recognise the economic, as well as the moral superiority of Ariste, it suffices to comprehend this consoling axiom, which is not the less true that it has the aspect of a paradox : To save is to spend.

What is the object of Ariste in saving £500? Is it that he


may bury five hundred gold pieces secretly in his garden? No, assuredly; he wishes to enlarge his capital and his revenue. In consequence, that money which he does not spend on personal gratifications he employs in purchasing lands, a house, government stock, shares in industrial enterprises, or he places it with a merchant or a banker. Follow the shillings in each and all of these suppositions, and you will be convinced that through the intervention of sellers or borrowers they go to maintain industry just as surely as if Ariste, after his brother's example, had exchanged them for furniture, jewellery, or horses.

For, when Ariste buys land or stock for £500, he is moved by the consideration that he does not need to spend that sum, this being the very thing which you make into a charge against him.

But, in the same way, the person who sells him the land or the stock is moved by this consideration, that he needs to spend the £500 in some other manner.

Thus, in every case, the expenditure is made, either by Ariste or by those who take his place ; and as regards the working classes and the encouragement of industry, there is only one difference between the conduct of Ariste and that of Mondor. The expenditure of Mondor being made directly by him and around him, it is seen. That of Ariste being made in part by intermediaries and at a distance, it is not seen. But in truth, and for him who knows how to connect effects with causes, that which is not seen is as certain as that which is seen.

What proves it is, that in both cases the money circulates. It remains in the strong box of the prudent no more than in that of the spendthrift.

It is then false to say that economy does an actual wrong to industry. In this respect it is quite as beneficial as luxury.

But how vast is its superiority, if in thought, instead of looking only to the passing hour, we embrace a long period.

Ten years have passed away. What has become of Mondor ard his fortune, and his great popularity? All has disappeared : Mondor is ruined ;far from diffusing £2500 yearly throughout the social body, he is perhaps a charge upon it. case, he no longer is the joy of his tradesmen ; he is no longer reckoned as a promoter of the arts and of industry ; he is good for nothing to the working classes, any more than to his family, whom he leaves in distress.

At the end of those same ten years, not only does Ariste con

In any

tinue to throw all his revenues into circulation, but revenues which go on increasing year by year. He increases the national capital

that is to say, the fund which supplies wages ; and, as it is on the existence of this fund that the demand for labour depends, he helps to increase progressively the remuneration of the working class. When he dies, he leaves behind him children whom he has qualified to take his place in this work of progress and of civilisation.

In a moral point of view, the superiority of economy over luxury is incontestable. It is consoling to think that it is so in the economic view also for whosoever, not stopping at the immediate effects of phenomena, can push his investigations to their final issues.


“ My brothers, subscribe to furnish me with work at your price.” This is the right to labour ; socialism elementary, or in the first stage.

“ My brothers, subscribe to furnish me with work at my price.” This is the right to profit ; socialism refined, or in the second stage.

Both live by those of their effects which are seen. They will die through those of their effects which are not seen.

What is seen, is the labour and profit stimulated by the social contribution. What is not seen, is the labour and the profit which this same contribution would create, if it were left in the hands of those who pay it.

In France in 1848, the right to labour showed itself for a moment under two aspects. That was enough to ruin it in public opinion.

One of its faces was called, National Workshop; the other, Tax of 45 Centimes (41d.)

Millions of francs proceeded every day from the Ministry of Finance to the national workshops. That is the fair side of the medal. But behold the reverse. In order that millions should issue from a box, it is needful that they enter it first. Therefore it was that the organizers of the right to labour addressed themselves to the taxpayer.

Now, the farmer said : “I must pay 45 centimes. I shall then, be deprived of a garment; I shall not manure my field ; I shall not repair my cottage.” And the workmen in the country said : “Since the farmer deprives himself of a garment, there will be less work for the tailor. Since he does not manure his field, there will be less work for the farm-labourer. Since he does not repair his house, there will be less labour for the carpenter and the mason.”

It was then proved that two grists cannot be taken from one sack, and that the labour paid by the Government is effected at the expense of the labour paid by the taxpayer. This was the death of the right to labour, which proved itself a chimera, as well as an injustice.

If you

And nevertheless the right to profit, which is only the exaggeration of the right to labour, still lives, and is in marvellous health.

Is there not something shameful in the part which the protectionist plays in society ? He says to it: “You must give me work, and what is more, lucrative work. I have foolishly chosen an employment which leaves me a loss of ten per cent. levy a tax of twenty francs on my countrymen, and pay the amount to me, my loss will be converted into profit. Now, profit is a right ; you owe me it.”1

The society which listens to this sophist, which loads itself with taxes for his satisfaction, which does not perceive that the loss sustained by one branch of industry is not the less a loss because others are forced to make it up,—such a society, I say, well deserves the burden inflicted on it.

Thus, it appears, by the numerous subjects which we have passed in review, that not to know social economy, is to allow one's-self to be dazzled by the immediate effect of a phenomenonto be the victim of delusions ; to know it is to embrace in thought and by foresight the sum-total of its effects.

i While these sheets are passing through the press, I observe the following statement in the Times of the 12th July 1859 (City Article) :-"An inquiry, lately instituted by the Council of State on the subject of the duties imposed on foreign combed wool imported into France bas inflicted a severe blow on the Protectionists. The result of the inquiry has demonstrated that in consequence of the duty imposed on foreign wool, 10,000 inbabitants are prevented from procuring wollen clothing."— Translator (1859).

We shall conclude by applying to political economy what Chateaubriand says of history :-“ There are,” says he, “ two consequences in history ; one immediate and observed at the instant; the other distant and not at first perceived.

These consequences are often contradictory; the first class arises from our brief wisdom, the second from the wisdom everlasting. The providential event appears after the human event. God rises behind

Deny as much as you will the supreme wisdom, admit not its action, dispute about words, call that · force of things,' or • reason' which others call Providence, but look to the end of an accomplished deed, and you will see that it always produces the reverse of what was expected from it, when it has not been at first founded on morality and justice."


[ocr errors]
« PredošláPokračovať »