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Economic Harmonies; Bastiat, Frédéric
95 paragraphs found.
About the Author
A.1
About the Author

Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) was a French economist, statesman, and author. He was the leader of the free-trade movement in France from its inception in 1840 until his untimely death in 1850. The first 45 years of his life were spent in preparation for five tremendously productive years writing in favor of freedom. Bastiat was the founder of the weekly newspaper, Le Libre Échange, a contributor to numerous periodicals, and the author of sundry pamphlets and speeches dealing with the pressing issues of his day. Most of his writing was done in the years directly before and after the Revolution of 1848—a time when France was rapidly embracing socialism. As a deputy in the Legislative Assembly, Bastiat fought valiantly for the private property order, but unfortunately the majority of his colleagues chose to ignore him. Frederic Bastiat remains one of the great champions of freedom whose writings retain their relevance as we continue to confront the old adversary.

Note:
Frédéric Bastiat: Ideas and Influence (Foundation for Economic Education, 1963).
Note:
[As the ensuing pages of this book make clear, Bastiat uses the words "political economy" and the "economists" to designate in a general way the "classical" school of economists to which he himself gave allegiance. These include the eighteenth-century "physiocrats": Quesnay ( Tableau èconomique, 1759), Mercier de la Rivière, Dupont de Nemours, Le Trôsne, Mirabeau, Condorcet, and Turgot; the "English School": Adam Smith, Malthus, John Stuart Mill, Senior, Scrope, and Ricardo; and his own French contemporaries: Jean-Baptiste Say, Pellegrino Rossi, Garnier, and others less well known who held similar views on wealth and free exchange. See also Bastiat's comments in chapter 9.—Translator.]
Note:
[Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), English economist. Cf. chapter 16 for Bastiat's discussion of his Essay on the Principle of Population.—Translator.]
Note:
["Socialists," "egalitarians," "communists": In France, before the time of Karl Marx, of course, these terms were used, as Bastiat uses them, to refer generally to those political theorists advocating collectivism primarily as a means to advance equality. Before and during the Revolution they included Morelly ( Code de la nature, 1755); Mably ( Doutes.... sur l'ordre naturel et essentiel des sociétés politiques, 1768); Babeuf, founder of the society of "the Equals" (executed in 1797), and his later followers: Philippe Buonarroti, Armand Barbès, Martin Bernard, and Louis Auguste Blanqui. Bastiat also includes as sharers of these ideas his contemporary "planners of artificial social orders": Fourier, Louis Blanc, Considérant, Cabet, Owen, and Saint-Simon. (Cf. notes on Fourier, Louis Blanc, Owen, and Cabet, chapter 1, p. 11; on Proudhon, chapter 5, p. 128; on Considérant, p. 550.)—Translator.]
Preface to the English-Language Edition, by George B. de Huszar
P.1

by George B. de Huszar

Preface to the
English-Language Edition

Frédéric Bastiat has said that the Harmonies is a counterpart to Economic Sophisms, and, while the latter pulls down, the Harmonies builds up. Charles Gide and Charles Rist in a standard treatise, A History of Economic Doctrines, have referred to "the beautiful unity of conception of the Harmonies," and added, "we are by no means certain that the Harmonies and the Pamphlets are not still the best books that a young student of political economy can possibly read."

P.2

Unfortunately the Harmonies after chapter 10 are unfinished fragments and therefore are filled with repetitions which Bastiat would have corrected had he lived. It is also important to keep in mind that parts of the Harmonies were first given as speeches.

P.3

This translation follows as faithfully as possible the original French standard edition of the complete works of Bastiat. Cross references have been included among the three volumes of the present translation.

P.4

Three types of notes are included: Translator's notes are directed at the general reader and are mainly about persons and terms. Editor's notes refer to notes by the editor of the French edition; Bastiat's notes stand without such notations. Only the Translator's notes are at the bottom of the page; the Editor's notes and Bastiat's notes are at the end of the volume. The latter two are more important but were put in the back to avoid cluttering the pages and to promote readability. Where the French editor has indicated a cross reference to a chapter or passage in Economic Sophisms or to any of the pamphlets or speeches included in Selected Essays on Political Economy, the original reference to the French edition has been replaced by one directing the reader to the English translation.

P.5

Although these three volumes of English translations of Bastiat are published simultaneously, there is some repetition of the Translator's notes and the editorial Prefaces. This is necessary because some may obtain only one volume of this three-volume series, and therefore each volume has been made as self-sufficient as possible.

Note:
Frédéric Bastiat: Ideas and Influence (Foundation for Economic Education, 1963).
Note:
[As the ensuing pages of this book make clear, Bastiat uses the words "political economy" and the "economists" to designate in a general way the "classical" school of economists to which he himself gave allegiance. These include the eighteenth-century "physiocrats": Quesnay ( Tableau èconomique, 1759), Mercier de la Rivière, Dupont de Nemours, Le Trôsne, Mirabeau, Condorcet, and Turgot; the "English School": Adam Smith, Malthus, John Stuart Mill, Senior, Scrope, and Ricardo; and his own French contemporaries: Jean-Baptiste Say, Pellegrino Rossi, Garnier, and others less well known who held similar views on wealth and free exchange. See also Bastiat's comments in chapter 9.—Translator.]
Note:
[Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), English economist. Cf. chapter 16 for Bastiat's discussion of his Essay on the Principle of Population.—Translator.]
Note:
["Socialists," "egalitarians," "communists": In France, before the time of Karl Marx, of course, these terms were used, as Bastiat uses them, to refer generally to those political theorists advocating collectivism primarily as a means to advance equality. Before and during the Revolution they included Morelly ( Code de la nature, 1755); Mably ( Doutes.... sur l'ordre naturel et essentiel des sociétés politiques, 1768); Babeuf, founder of the society of "the Equals" (executed in 1797), and his later followers: Philippe Buonarroti, Armand Barbès, Martin Bernard, and Louis Auguste Blanqui. Bastiat also includes as sharers of these ideas his contemporary "planners of artificial social orders": Fourier, Louis Blanc, Considérant, Cabet, Owen, and Saint-Simon. (Cf. notes on Fourier, Louis Blanc, Owen, and Cabet, chapter 1, p. 11; on Proudhon, chapter 5, p. 128; on Considérant, p. 550.)—Translator.]
Bibliographical Notice
B.Bib.1

by W. Hayden Boyers

Bibliographical Notice

Les Harmonies économiques, par Frédéric Bastiat, Paris, Guillaumin, 1850, 463 pp.

This was the first edition. It was published just a few months before Bastiat died, and was incomplete, containing only the first ten chapters.

B.Bib.2

Les Harmonies économiques, par Frédéric Bastiat, 2ème édition augmentée des manuscrits laissés par l'auteur, publiée par la Société des Amis de Bastiat ( sous la direction de P. Paillottet et R. de Fontenay), Paris, Guillaumin, 1851, xi, 567 pp.

This was the first complete edition, and no changes of any importance were subsequently made in it. Paillottet brought back from Rome (where Bastiat had died) the manuscript of the Harmonies and had Bastiat's commission to edit and publish the entire work.

B.Bib.3

Oeuvres complètes de Frédéric Bastiat, mises en ordre, revues et annotées d'après les manuscrits de l'auteur ( par P. Paillottet et R. de Fontenay), Paris, Guillaumin, 1854-55, 6 vols.

The Harmonies were incorporated into this as Volume VI.

B.Bib.5

The edition of the Harmonies used by the translator is Les Harmonies èconomiques, par Frèdèric Bastiat, 6ème édition, Paris, Guillaumin, 1870. It is still listed as Volume VI in the Oeuvres complètes, 2ème edition. The translator also consulted the 1862 and 1884 editions of the Harmonies and found no significant variants. The Appendix letter, entitled "A Tentative Preface to the Harmonies," was consulted in the Oeuvres complètes, 2ème edition, Vol. VII, 1861, pp. 303 ff.

W. Hayden Boyers
Note:
Frédéric Bastiat: Ideas and Influence (Foundation for Economic Education, 1963).
Note:
[As the ensuing pages of this book make clear, Bastiat uses the words "political economy" and the "economists" to designate in a general way the "classical" school of economists to which he himself gave allegiance. These include the eighteenth-century "physiocrats": Quesnay ( Tableau èconomique, 1759), Mercier de la Rivière, Dupont de Nemours, Le Trôsne, Mirabeau, Condorcet, and Turgot; the "English School": Adam Smith, Malthus, John Stuart Mill, Senior, Scrope, and Ricardo; and his own French contemporaries: Jean-Baptiste Say, Pellegrino Rossi, Garnier, and others less well known who held similar views on wealth and free exchange. See also Bastiat's comments in chapter 9.—Translator.]
Note:
[Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), English economist. Cf. chapter 16 for Bastiat's discussion of his Essay on the Principle of Population.—Translator.]
Note:
["Socialists," "egalitarians," "communists": In France, before the time of Karl Marx, of course, these terms were used, as Bastiat uses them, to refer generally to those political theorists advocating collectivism primarily as a means to advance equality. Before and during the Revolution they included Morelly ( Code de la nature, 1755); Mably ( Doutes.... sur l'ordre naturel et essentiel des sociétés politiques, 1768); Babeuf, founder of the society of "the Equals" (executed in 1797), and his later followers: Philippe Buonarroti, Armand Barbès, Martin Bernard, and Louis Auguste Blanqui. Bastiat also includes as sharers of these ideas his contemporary "planners of artificial social orders": Fourier, Louis Blanc, Considérant, Cabet, Owen, and Saint-Simon. (Cf. notes on Fourier, Louis Blanc, Owen, and Cabet, chapter 1, p. 11; on Proudhon, chapter 5, p. 128; on Considérant, p. 550.)—Translator.]
Introduction, by Dean Russell
I.1

by Dean Russell

Introduction

Frédéric Bastiat, 1801-1850, is generally classified as an economist. But, as I showed in my book on his life, works, and influence, his real claim to fame properly belongs in the field of government—both in its organization and in its philosophy. *1 Even so, his contribution to the field of economics was considerable, especially in the area of free trade.

I.2

Bastiat was a contemporary of Richard Cobden, the man most responsible for bringing free trade to Great Britain in 1846. The two men became close friends when Bastiat attempted to do in France what Cobden had accomplished in England. While Bastiat was unsuccessful in bringing free trade to France during his lifetime, his disciple, Michel Chevalier, was the co-author with Cobden of the Anglo-French Treaty of Commerce that finally accomplished the objective in 1860.

I.3

Bastiat's interest in free trade, however, was still incidental to his passion for freedom in general. As he wrote in one of his numerous letters to Cobden, "Rather than the fact of free trade alone, I desire for my country the general philosophy of free trade. While free trade itself will bring more wealth to us, the acceptance of the general philosophy that underlies free trade will inspire all needed reforms."

I.4

Bastiat spelled out that philosophy in considerable detail in his major work, Principles of Political Economy. In the Introduction to that book, he made the statement, "It would be nonsense for me to say that socialists have never advanced a truth, and that economists [those who advocate a free market] have never supported an error." *2 As we shall see, one of Bastiat's major ideas in his Harmonies—his theory and definition of value, of which he was especially proud—is now generally held to be somewhat pointless. That fact, of course, does not deny the soundness of his fundamental principle that the interests of mankind are essentially harmonious and can best be realized in a free society where government confines its actions merely to suppressing the robbers, murderers, falsifiers, and others who wish to live at the expense of their fellow men.

I.5

The first economic harmony that Bastiat illustrated was the idea that, as the capital employed in a nation increases, the share of the resulting production going to the workers tends to increase both in percentage and in total amount. The share going to the owners of the capital tends to increase in total amount but to decrease percentagewise. Bastiat used hypothetical figures merely to indicate the direction of this relationship that occurs when capital accumulation increases, with its resulting increase in production.

Distribution of Shares of Increased Production
To OwnersTo Employees
Total UnitsPer CentUnitsPer CentUnits
When total national product is5020108040
When total national product is7515128563
When total national product is10014148686
I.6

That theory was offered to refute the gloomy "iron law of wages" advanced by Ricardo, as well as Malthus' equally horrible prediction that an increasing population must necessarily face starvation. Bastiat recognized the fact that, in this division of national income, the amounts and percentages going to capital and labor would, for a variety of reasons, vary widely from industry to industry, from country to country, and from time to time. But he was quite positive that the tendency would be in the direction indicated by his figures for the nation that encourages the private accumulation of capital.

I.7

This trend that Bastiat predicted in the division of the total production of the nation is just what did happen under increased capital formation in the United States and other countries that more or less follow the concepts of a market economy.

I.8

Bastiat arrived at his theory by observing that new tools and new methods are more productive than older tools and former methods, and that competition tends to cause most of the resulting benefits to be passed along in higher wages or lower prices, or both. In either instance, real wages are thereby increased. Like many of his predecessors, Bastiat also noted that interest on capital is likely to decline as capital becomes more plentiful. (History does not record the first person who discovered this primary law of supply and demand.) At any rate, the verdict of the Twentieth Century to date refutes the gloomy predictions of Ricardo, who argued that wages always tend toward the lowest level needed to sustain the required working force at a minimum standard of health. Bastiat's optimistic theory that real wages tend to rise constantly in a free market is more in accord with reality.

I.9

Thus, according to Bastiat, the interests of capital and labor are harmonious, not antagonistic. Each is dependent on the other. Both gain by working harmoniously together to increase both capital and production, even though the employees tend to get the lion's share of the increased production. Government interference in the long run will injure the interests of both owners and workers, but most especially the workers.

I.10

In his major work, Bastiat discussed the "harmony of capital" in almost every chapter, and from various viewpoints. His treatment of the subject is, by far, the most convincing part of his book. While it is doubtless correct to observe that Bastiat contributed nothing new to the actual theory of capital, it is perhaps equally correct to suggest that his presentation and development of several facets of the subject are superior to those of his predecessors and teachers—Smith, Say, and others.

I.11

We have already noted one of his "harmonies of capital" above. Here is another. If the market is free, said Bastiat, no one can accumulate capital (excluding gifts) unless he renders a service to someone else. The people who have the capital (including the person who has only one dollar) won't part with it unless they are offered a product or service that they value as highly as the capital. In reality, said Bastiat, capital is always put at the service of other people who do not own it, and it is always used to satisfy a desire (good or bad) that other people want satisfied. In that important sense, all capital is truly owned in common by the entire community—and the greater the accumulation of capital, the more its benefits are shared in common.

I.12

"Here is a worker whose daily wages is four francs. With two of them, he can purchase a pair of stockings. If he alone had to manufacture those stockings completely—from the growing of the cotton to the transporting of it to the factory and to the spinning of the threads into material of the proper quality and shape—I suspect that he would never accomplish the task in a lifetime." Bastiat offered several other similar stories and parables based on that same idea of the benefits that come to all from the increasing division of labor that automatically follows the accumulation of capital.

I.13

Contrary to most of his classical predecessors, Bastiat was almost totally concerned with the interests of the consumer. While he wished to render justice to the producer (the capitalist and the entrepreneur), he seemed concerned with him only in passing. Perhaps that can be explained by the fact that the socialists of Bastiat's day were in the ascendancy—and Bastiat desired to beat them at their own game by showing that the workers and consumers (rather than the owners of capital) are the chief beneficiaries of private ownership, competition, free trade, interest, profits, rent, capital accumulation, and so on.

I.14

The harmony that Bastiat found in all this was the same as that demonstrated by Adam Smith and the physiocrats: In serving his own selfish interests, the producer has no choice but to serve first the interests of the consumer, if the market is free. Each person may be working only to benefit himself but, doubtless unknown to himself, he is really working primarily to satisfy the needs and desires of others.

I.15

By both observation and reason, Bastiat was led to the conclusion that man tends to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort. That would seem self-evident, but Bastiat used that simple axiom to show that a popular way to satisfy one's wants with minimum effort is to vote for subsidies and protection. Bastiat pointed out the awkward fact that such a solution is contrary to the wants and actions of the persons who must pay the resulting higher taxes and higher prices. This government path to satisfying one's wants is antagonistic, rather than harmonious, and is thus self-defeating in the long run. It will result in less than maximum production by both those who must pay the subsidy and those who receive it. When the government interferes, said Bastiat, the natural harmony of the free and productive market is destroyed, and the people waste their energies in attempting to win political power in order to exploit each other. "Everybody wishes to live at the expense of the state, but they forget that the state lives at the expense of everybody." In another book, Bastiat also stated that idea in this way: "The state is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everybody else."

I.16

In his Harmonies, Bastiat felt that he had made a major contribution to political economy by his definition of value. He felt that his concept should reconcile the conflicting opinions of all economists—including even the socialists and communists! He introduced the subject by making a sharp distinction between utility and value. Under utility, he listed the sun, water, and undeveloped land. According to him, none of the gifts of Nature have any value—until human effort has been applied to them. While he specifically rejected the labor theory of value, he may well have endorsed it unknowingly under another name—service.

I.17

According to Bastiat, service is the source of all value, and any exchange implies equal value. Water has no value in its native state. But the building of a well and the hauling of the water to the consumers (services) have value. And the purchaser pays for it with equal services, even though it may be in the intermediate form of money that facilitates the transferring of past, present, and future services.

I.18

Bastiat felt compelled to defend the rightness and justice of every voluntary exchange. Thus, he was most happy with his idea that the service supplied by the man who accidentally discovers a valuable diamond is worth a large price (other services) because it saves the purchaser from the effort that is usually connected with the securing of such a gem.

I.19

Bastiat just ignored the fact that the value to the purchaser would be the same, whether the seller had found the diamond, inherited it, or worked for several years digging it out of the ground. Thus, the value of an article is clearly not directly related to the "service" supplied by the seller himself, and Bastiat's effort to reconcile that fact with his general theory led him completely astray in this area.

I.20

In his chapters on "Exchange" and "Value," Bastiat quoted two men who clearly (and perhaps first) saw the true relationship between exchange and value—and he then scoffed at both of them. The first was Étienne Bonnot de Condillac, 1714-1780: "From the very fact that an exchange is made, it follows that there must be a profit for each of the contracting parties; otherwise the exchange would not take place. Thus, each exchange represents two gains for humanity."

I.21

The second quotation cited by Bastiat was by Heinrich Friedrich von Storch, 1766-1835: "Our judgment enables us to discover the relation that exists between our wants and the utility of things. The determination that our judgment forms upon the utility of things also determines their value."

I.23

Thus, Bastiat had full opportunity to make a vital contribution to economic thought by developing these two ideas, with which he was obviously familiar. Most unfortunately, he missed the opportunity.

I.24

Even so, perhaps Bastiat supplies the connecting link between the English classicists, with their objective theory of value, and the Austrians, with their subjective theory based on the universal actions of men in real life. At least, the following series of quotations extracted from various pages of his Harmonies indicates clearly that he had advanced far beyond the former and was making excellent progress toward the latter.

I.26

In addition to the ideas expressed above, Bastiat also developed in great detail the theory that competition will cause all of the gifts of Nature to become widespread—including, of course, land and all other natural resources.

I.27

Like almost all economists of his time, Bastiat was obsessed with this problem of rent on land. If it could not be justified and harmonized, he said, then the question asked by the socialist Proudhon was correct: "Who is entitled to the rent on land? Why, of course, the one who made the land. Then who made it? God. In that case, would-be owner, get off."

I.28

Bastiat's defense of rent covers many pages, but it adds up to this: Land rent is justified because the owners of the land (current and past) have rendered a valuable service. They have cleared the land, drained it, and made it suitable for planting. They have paid taxes to have roads built to it. If the amount of labor and capital that has been expended on the agricultural lands of France were capitalized, Bastiat contended, the current return in the form of rent would be considered a most unattractive investment today. Therefore, the owners of land do not enjoy an unearned income—or, at least, they would not if the market were free. Bastiat argued that any "unearned" rent was, like protected prices for manufactured products, the result of government interference with domestic and foreign trade. On the subject of rent, Bastiat was a physiocrat, pure and simple. He also used this same idea to defend the necessity and justice of a return on capital in general; all current capital, he said, merely represents past labor that has been saved and is rendering a service today.

I.29

While Bastiat's arguments on land rent are most persuasive—and were doubtless true in the context presented—they were too carefully selected to prove any over-all principle. For it is undeniably true that land (like other products and services) can and does vary widely in price for a variety of reasons, and that the owner of the land can reap a profit (or suffer a loss) even though he has done no work at all on it. But, once again, it does not follow that Bastiat was wrong in imagining that harmony can be found in the private ownership of land and the charging of a free-market rent for its use.

I.30

Bastiat was particularly anxious to refute the gloomy theories of Ricardo and Malthus in regard to wages, rent, population, and starvation. He felt that his theory that labor receives an increasing share from additional capital accumulation was an answer to Ricardo on wages and to Malthus on starvation. He answered Ricardo directly on the subject of land and rent. Finally, he offered the opinion that if man were free—truly free—with God's help he would discover harmonious ways to keep the population from increasing beyond the ability of science to discover new ways to feed it.

I.31

Bastiat has no great standing among leading economists as an innovator or an original thinker in the field of economic theory. That verdict may be justified. But his development of his central idea of a universal harmony in all areas of human relationships led Gide and Rist to write, "The fundamental doctrines of [the liberal or optimistic school] were definitely formulated about the same time, though in very different fashion of course, in the Principles of Stuart Mill in England and the Harmonies of Bastiat in France."

Dean Russell
Note:
Frédéric Bastiat: Ideas and Influence (Foundation for Economic Education, 1963).
Note:
[As the ensuing pages of this book make clear, Bastiat uses the words "political economy" and the "economists" to designate in a general way the "classical" school of economists to which he himself gave allegiance. These include the eighteenth-century "physiocrats": Quesnay ( Tableau èconomique, 1759), Mercier de la Rivière, Dupont de Nemours, Le Trôsne, Mirabeau, Condorcet, and Turgot; the "English School": Adam Smith, Malthus, John Stuart Mill, Senior, Scrope, and Ricardo; and his own French contemporaries: Jean-Baptiste Say, Pellegrino Rossi, Garnier, and others less well known who held similar views on wealth and free exchange. See also Bastiat's comments in chapter 9.—Translator.]
Note:
[Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), English economist. Cf. chapter 16 for Bastiat's discussion of his Essay on the Principle of Population.—Translator.]
Note:
["Socialists," "egalitarians," "communists": In France, before the time of Karl Marx, of course, these terms were used, as Bastiat uses them, to refer generally to those political theorists advocating collectivism primarily as a means to advance equality. Before and during the Revolution they included Morelly ( Code de la nature, 1755); Mably ( Doutes.... sur l'ordre naturel et essentiel des sociétés politiques, 1768); Babeuf, founder of the society of "the Equals" (executed in 1797), and his later followers: Philippe Buonarroti, Armand Barbès, Martin Bernard, and Louis Auguste Blanqui. Bastiat also includes as sharers of these ideas his contemporary "planners of artificial social orders": Fourier, Louis Blanc, Considérant, Cabet, Owen, and Saint-Simon. (Cf. notes on Fourier, Louis Blanc, Owen, and Cabet, chapter 1, p. 11; on Proudhon, chapter 5, p. 128; on Considérant, p. 550.)—Translator.]
To the Youth of France
Note:
Frédéric Bastiat: Ideas and Influence (Foundation for Economic Education, 1963).
Note:
[As the ensuing pages of this book make clear, Bastiat uses the words "political economy" and the "economists" to designate in a general way the "classical" school of economists to which he himself gave allegiance. These include the eighteenth-century "physiocrats": Quesnay ( Tableau èconomique, 1759), Mercier de la Rivière, Dupont de Nemours, Le Trôsne, Mirabeau, Condorcet, and Turgot; the "English School": Adam Smith, Malthus, John Stuart Mill, Senior, Scrope, and Ricardo; and his own French contemporaries: Jean-Baptiste Say, Pellegrino Rossi, Garnier, and others less well known who held similar views on wealth and free exchange. See also Bastiat's comments in chapter 9.—Translator.]
Note:
[Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), English economist. Cf. chapter 16 for Bastiat's discussion of his Essay on the Principle of Population.—Translator.]
Note:
["Socialists," "egalitarians," "communists": In France, before the time of Karl Marx, of course, these terms were used, as Bastiat uses them, to refer generally to those political theorists advocating collectivism primarily as a means to advance equality. Before and during the Revolution they included Morelly ( Code de la nature, 1755); Mably ( Doutes.... sur l'ordre naturel et essentiel des sociétés politiques, 1768); Babeuf, founder of the society of "the Equals" (executed in 1797), and his later followers: Philippe Buonarroti, Armand Barbès, Martin Bernard, and Louis Auguste Blanqui. Bastiat also includes as sharers of these ideas his contemporary "planners of artificial social orders": Fourier, Louis Blanc, Considérant, Cabet, Owen, and Saint-Simon. (Cf. notes on Fourier, Louis Blanc, Owen, and Cabet, chapter 1, p. 11; on Proudhon, chapter 5, p. 128; on Considérant, p. 550.)—Translator.]
Chapter 1
Note:
[The reader is reminded that this introduction was written in the days immediately following the Revolution of 1848, when the "bourgeois king," Louis Philippe, had been overthrown and a Constitutional Convention (of which Bastiat was a member) was engaged in drafting a constitution for the newly formed Second Republic. Bastiat did not live to see the sorry aftermath—the coup d'état of 1852, which turned the idealistic Second Republic into the Second Empire under Napoleon III.—Translator.]
Note:
[This quotation, which so impressed Bastiat that he refers to it five times in the course of the Harmonies, is to be found in Part One of the Discourse on Inequality. The original passage reads as follows: "It is not to him (the savage) that we must look for the scientific insight man needs in order to observe carefully even once what he has seen every day."—Translator.]
Note:
["Stake life on truth." The quotation comes from Juvenal, Satire IV, line 91 Rousseau used it as Bastiat indicates.—Translator.]
Note:
[While Bastiat was thoroughly familiar with all Rousseau's main political writings ( The Social Contract, Discourse on the Arts and Sciences, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Discourse on Political Economy), the quotations and paraphrases he uses here come from the Social Contract: Book I, chap. iv; Book II, chaps. vi and vii; and Book III, chap. xv.—Translator.]
Note:
It is alleged that our system of free competition, advocated by ignorant political economists and adopted as a means of getting rid of monopolies, results, in fact, in the general establishment of monster monopolies in all categories." ( Principes du socialisme, by M. Considérant, page 15.) *

* [Victor Considérant (1808-1893), as a socialist of the Fourier school, is the frequent object of Bastiat's criticism.—Translator.]

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2

Chapter 2
Note:
[Bastiat had just been elected a Deputy to the National Assembly.—Translator.]
Chapter 3
Note:
[The February Revolution, of 1848, which ousted the "bourgeois king," Louis Philippe, and established the short-lived Second Republic, of which the poet-statesman Lamartine was the provisional head. Bastiat served in the Legislative Assembly and was a member of the Committee of Finance. This government, however, was subject to communist and socialist pressures, the object of Bastiat's relentless criticism, and adopted many measures that he deplored.—Translator.]
Note:
[From Part Two of the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. Nearly all the arguments that Bastiat attempts to refute in this chapter can be found either in the Discourse on Inequality or in the Discourse on the Arts and Sciences.—Translator.]
Note:
[Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832), French professor of political economy, champion of free trade. His views influenced Bastiat greatly. His son, Horace (1794-1860), and his grandson, Léon (1826-1896), were also economists.—Translator.]
Chapter 4
Note:
[Already quoted by Bastiat in chap. 1. (See p. 2.)—Translator.]
Note:
[In his third point Bastiat has taken certain liberties with the original text of Adam Smith: "This great increase of the quantity of work, which, in consequence of the division of labour, the same number of people are capable of performing, is owing to three different circumstances: first, to the increase of dexterity in every particular workman; secondly, to the saving of the time which is commonly lost in passing from one species of work to another; and last, to the invention of a great number of machines which facilitate and abridge labour, and enable one man to do the work of many." ( The Wealth of Nations, Oxford, I, 9.)

Bastiat substitutes for "the invention of a great number of machines, etc.," a remark Smith makes subsequently on this subject: "Men are much more likely to discover easier and readier methods of attaining any object, when the whole attention of their minds is directed towards that single object, than when it is dissipated among a great variety of things." ( Op. cit., p. 11.)—Translator.]

Note:
[The Department of the Seine is an administrative district of France which includes Paris and the rich countryside around it. The Department of Landes, in southwestern France, along the Atlantic coast, is, on the contrary, sandy, marshy, and relatively barren. Bastiat himself was from this department, and was elected by it to the national Chamber of Deputies.—Translator.]
Chapter 5
Note:
[Maria-Felicia Garcia Malibran (1808-1836), a most celebrated soprano-contralto of her day, best known, as Bastiat indicates, for her interpretations of Rossini's operas.—Translator.]
Note:
[Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), French social theorist and experimenter, a prolific writer on political and economic questions, for the most part radical or anarchistic in viewpoint. Bastiat and he had a fiery controversy over his proposal of loans without interest.—Translator.]
Chapter 6
Note:
[Auguste, Vicomte de Saint-Chamans (1777-1861), Deputy and Councillor of State under the Restoration, protectionist and upholder of the balance of trade. His celebrated stand on the "obstacle" here quoted by Bastiat comes from his Nouvel essai sur la richesse des nations, 1824. This work was later (1852) incorporated in his Traité d'économie politique.—Translator.]
Note:
[Bastiat here refers ironically to Proudhon's famous declaration: "The series is the antithesis of unity." Convinced that the various elements of society were inherently opposites, like the positive and negative poles of an electric battery, Proudhon advanced the theory that from their antithetical nature came the life and movement of society. Therefore, it was neither possible nor desirable to look for any unifying principle from which to formulate a synthesis of social phenomena.

The "People's Bank" was Proudhon's ill-fated effort at establishing a co-operative enterprise providing for the free exchange of goods and services, together with interest-free loans. The bank failed in 1849.—Translator.]

Chapter 7

Chapter 9
Note:
[ The Wealth of Nations (Rogers edition), I, 367. The italics are Bastiat's, not Smith's. The phrase "nonetheless" ( n'en a pas moins") is added by Bastiat.—Translator.]
Note:
[ The Wealth of Nations (Buchanan edition), II, 55, note. Bastiat's translation, which has been given literally above, differs from the original in the long paraphrase used to render the English words "the reproduction of rent" as well as in the addition of the parenthesis that it elicits. Buchanan actually says: "In dwelling on the reproduction of rent as so great an advantage to society, Smith does not reflect that rent is the effect of high price, and that what the landlord gains in this way he gains at the expense of the community at large. There is no absolute gain to society by the reproduction of rent. It is only one class profiting at the expense of another class."—Translator.]
Note:
[ Political Works (McCulloch's edition), pp. 34, 35. Bastiat has again for the sake of emphasis altered slightly the English text, which is as follows: "Rent is that portion of the produce of the earth which is paid to the landlord for the use of the original and indestructible powers of the soil."—Translator.]
Note:
[Henry Charles Carey (1793-1879), Principles of Political Economy (Philadelphia, 1837), Pt. I, pp. 49-50. Bastiat and Carey held very similar views on value, although they differed sharply on many other questions. Their lively discussions were printed in the Journal des économistes in 1851, the year after Bastiat's death.—Translator.]

Chapter 10

Conclusion to the Original Edition
Note:
[Bastiat here refers to the ill-fated projects like the national workshops, interest-free credit, and the unemployment compensation laws set up by the socialists after the 1848 Revolution. Designed to aid the industrial workers, their costs were met by increased taxation, which fell heavily upon the rest of the nation, particularly the peasants.—Translator.]

Chapter 11

Chapter 12
Note:
[In this way Bastiat, of course, briefly summarizes the events of the Revolution of 1848.—Translator.]

Chapter 13

Chapter 13
Note:
[The famous Burgundy vineyard possessing a particular quality of soil enabling it to produce correspondingly superior grapes (and wine). Bastiat uses it, along with the diamond, as an illustration of a commodity having—apparently, but not actually—value derived from "the gratuitous gifts of Nature."—Translator.]

Chapter 14

Note:
[Of these proposed developments not one, unfortunately, exists; but we may be permitted to present here, in brief form, the two main conclusions to be drawn from the phenomenon that the author describes:

1. Suppose two fields, one, A, cultivated; the other, B, uncultivated. Assuming them to be of identical quality, the amount of labor previously required to clear A may be taken as the amount necessary to clear B. We can even say that because of our better knowledge, implements, means of communication, etc., it would take fewer days to put B into cultivation than it took for A. If the land had value in itself, A would be worth all that it cost to put it into cultivation, plus something for its natural productive powers; that is, much more than the sum now necessary to put B into comparable condition. Now, the opposite is true: A is worth less, since people buy it rather than cultivate B. When they buy A, they therefore pay nothing for its natural productive powers, since they do not pay even as much for the labor of cultivating it as this originally cost.

2. If field A yields 1,000 measures of wheat per year, field B when cultivated would yield the same quantity: A has been cultivated because, in the past, 1,000 measures of wheat fully compensated for the labor required both for its original clearance and its annual cultivation. B is not under cultivation because now 1,000 measures of wheat would not pay for an identical amount of labor—or even less, as we noted above.

What does this mean? Obviously that the value of human labor has risen as compared with the value of wheat; that a day's labor of a worker is worth more and receives more wheat in wages. In other words, wheat is produced for less effort and is exchanged for less labor, and the theory of the rising costs of foodstuffs is false. See, in Vol. I (of the French edition), the postscript of the letter addressed to the Journal des économistes, dated Dec. 8, 1850. See also on the subject the work of a disciple of Bastiat, Du revenu foncier ( Income from the Land) by R. de Fontenay.—Editor.]

Chapter 14
Note:
[These are the mutual insurance associations best exemplified in Bastiat's time by the English Friendly Societies.—Translator.]
Note:
[Richard Cobden (1804-1865), English manufacturer, member of Parliament, and champion of free trade, known personally to Bastiat and much admired by him.—Translator.]
Note:
[Antoine Eugène Buret (1810-1842), brilliant and, as Bastiat implies, pessimistic precursor of French socialism. Author of De la misère des classes laborieuses en Angleterre et en France, 1840.—Translator.]
Chapter 16
Note:
[Bastiat prefers to call Malthus' "positive" check the "repressive" check ( l'obstacle répressif). His preference is respected in the following pages.—Translator.]
Note:
[The beginning of the preceding chapter is of recent date; the rest is an article that appeared in 1846 in the Journal des économistes. After this date the author's ideas on this important subject became more precise, and I hope I may be pardoned for undertaking, following certain notes, to complete the exposition of the doctrine.

At first, Bastiat recognized as the only check on the increase of population the action of the law so forcefully formulated by Malthus, according to which the immutable will of God and the free will of his intelligent creature enter, so to speak, to an equal extent, where man is active by virtue of his foresight, and passive only when he is punished for not choosing to exercise foresight or for not knowing how. For Bastiat, as well as for Malthus, what counteracts the physiological tendency to reproduction is the motive of individual responsibility: responsibility for labor, or property; and responsibility for procreation, or patrimony and family.

One could even say that in this respect Bastiat is more truly an economist than his predecessor; for, instead of placing the preventive check purely in the domain of morality, as the latter did, Bastiat established it scientifically on the basis of the feeling of self-interest, the progressive ambition for an improvement in one's well-being—in a word, on individualism—the foundation of a society of property owners, in irreconcilable opposition to socialism.

In the absence of this primary prerequisite of the social order, and with any arrangement that would suppress or weaken the feeling of personal responsibility by way of an artificial extension of social solidarity, the principle of the preventive check is destroyed, man falls back into a condition in which his destiny is governed by the fatal operation of the repressive check, and he finds himself enmeshed in that series of inevitable phenomena, that chain of crushing consequences, which Malthus triumphantly opposed to the communist systems of his time and of all time. *

As we live in an age when it is more than ever necessary to disarm one truth in order to arm another, we were anxious to establish, above all, the respects in which these two masters are in agreement against those who desire "the community of evil, the blame laid on society for all the faults of individual men, a common share in all the crimes committed by each one."

But from this common premise, namely, the moral effort by which man governs himself, each of the two economists has drawn quite different conclusions. For, according to the first, that effort reduces itself to nothing more than virtuous self-restraint, and he does not venture to place much hope in the imperfect morality of the human race. The second sees it above all in foresight, in that control over one's conduct which is developed by the desire for well-being and by the fear of losing what one has already gained, and which determines and supports the social customs, duties, and moral sentiments prevailing in the environment in which one lives. According to him, consequently, every step taken on the way toward well-being tends, by the need to go farther, to encourage this prudent self-control. Man, as life becomes easier for him, becomes more difficult and demanding in what he expects from life. Thus, the vicious circle in which Malthus seems to enclose mankind, Bastiat, by a hardly noticeable correction, opens up, so to speak, into a spiral of indefinite progress; and the problem of population, over which the sinister shadow of death appeared to have fallen, becomes, from his point of view, a law of social harmony and human perfectibility, like all other sociological laws.

There are in Bastiat's theory on this question two quite distinct parts.

In the first, he shows that Malthus failed to give sufficient significance to the preventive check in calling it moral restraint, and that the limit of the means of existence, which seems to present itself at first glance as a fatal and inflexible minimum, is, on the contrary, both in theory and in fact, a movable barrier that progress keeps constantly advancing—at least in every society founded on justice and liberty.

It would be pointless to reiterate here Bastiat's argument demonstrating this thesis, and, besides, it coincides with the admirable studies that Rossi has carried out on the same subject. In full agreement with Malthus that, "in view of the imperfect way in which the precept of moral restraint has hitherto been observed, it would be visionary to hope for any important improvement in this respect," one may be permitted, without being regarded as in any way visionary, to recognize and point out that men, once enjoying a condition of well-being, are very eager to avoid doing anything that might impair it, and that this principle of self-restraint manifests itself, quite unnoticed, to a great extent in the habits, ideas, and social customs of the upper classes. Of course, a young man of twenty-four beginning his career or just out of a school where he has received specialized training for his profession never gives a moment's thought to Malthus' law; all he is thinking of is making a place for himself before burdening himself with a family. A ship's captain who spends the whole year in the long voyage from Le Havre or Nantes to the Indies would laugh in your face if you complimented him on his virtue and will tell you that, having a good education, but little money, he is looking for a wife he can love, that is to say, one well brought up, like himself, with a certain refinement of mind and manners, etc. But for this he needs to attain some degree of affluence, and he proposes to devote five or six years of his youth to laboriously laying a foundation for his future happiness. Instead of five or six years only, it could well be ten or a dozen, and perhaps, taking a fancy to life at sea, he will end by remaining single. All this is hardly contestable.

But Bastiat goes farther than Rossi. The latter, although attributing to the upper classes, a preponderant concern with the preventive check, thinks nevertheless that among the working classes the repressive check is virtually the only one that operates.

This distinction is too sharp. No doubt the proletariat is, by and large, less prudent than the bourgeoisie. But, in fact, it is easy to demonstrate, as Bastiat does, a progressive diminution in that part of the proletariat which is thriftless and improvident and a constant improvement in the well-being of the poorest classes. Now, in order for this twofold effect to be produced among a multitude which not only has an inherent tendency to increase, but which, besides, receives into its ranks those of the upper strata who fall from their superior social position, and which serves in some sort as an outlet for their vices, the preventive check must necessarily have operated on the proletariat far more powerfully than appears at first sight. How does this come about? It is simply that the proletariat encounters, in the very conditions of labor open to it, a multiplicity of obstacles already established that keep its numbers within bounds without its even being aware of them. I may cite, for example, domestic service—the whole business of working as wet nurses, which seems destined to absorb a good part of the exuberant fecundity of country women, and, for the men, military service and life in the army camp and the barracks; the great emigration of workers, which, in breaking their natural ties with family and neighbors, keeps them isolated, because of differences in the customs and sometimes in the language of the country to which they go in search of employment; the crowding of workmen in great centers of industry, around factories, foundries, mines, etc., with the concomitant substitution of the comradeship of the workshop for the intimacy of the family; migratory labor among field hands; the nomadic existence of traveling salesmen and others engaged in commerce properly so called; etc., etc.

To these one might well add the years of apprenticeship and the ever more demanding conditions imposed by progress. "To attain the high standard of living of modern society," says Proudhon, "a prodigious scientific, aesthetic, and industrial development is required..... Twenty-five years of education no longer suffices to secure a position among the privileged classes. What will it be in the future? ...." Obviously the preventive check is imposed on the proletariat in countless unnoticed ways.

No great effort, then, either of analysis or of observation is required to establish the fact that the repressive check operates with continually diminishing force—a conclusion that becomes evidently and incontestably apparent from an examination of the statistics concerning population trends in Europe. The capital point brought out by these figures is the increase in the average span of life that has taken place within the last hundred years. In England, M. Finlaison has established that the general death rate, which in 1805 was 1/42, is at present 1/46. According to M. Farr, the probable life expectancy of a person at the age of 20, which in 1698 was only 29, is now 40. In France, Messrs. Moreau de Jonnès, Bienaymé, etc., have drawn analogous conclusions.

Now, an increase in the average span of life and a decrease in the operation of the repressive check are simply two ways of expressing one and the same economic fact.

Is it possible to say in specific terms what share each of the social classes enjoys in this common conquest over death? I do not know, but it is impossible that all should not have participated in it; and, in view of everything that has been accomplished for many years in France, and especially in England, to improve the hygienic conditions of the poor, to provide them with medical care and facilities, to do away with insanitary housing, to effect changes in unwholesome industries, to regulate child labor, to provide a special institution to minister to men's needs in every kind of danger, etc., etc., I think we are entitled to presume that this decrease in the death rate has manifested itself in the lower classes to a greater extent, perhaps, proportionately, than in any other.

The number of years of active life that a man can expect to enjoy has increased, on the average, by five or ten. I should like to demonstrate statistically, as I easily could, the enormous value of this magnificent achievement. I venture to say that of all the conquests that can be credited to the advance of civilization it is this that deserves, in the highest degree, the careful attention of economists. It is, indeed, a kind of epitome, a summation, of all the progress that has been made, as it is also the sure sign, the infallible source, of every new advance—both cause and effect operating in a never-ending cycle.

But we must resist the temptation to embark upon such a study, which would throw a vivid light on the basic question with which we are here concerned. Let us return to Bastiat.

In the first part, he has relied on facts to prove that progress is the dominant tendency. In the second, he resorts to a priori reasoning and theoretical laws to establish the same conclusion.

In this altogether new part of his system, Bastiat shows—or rather, alas! was to have shown—that the increase in population (provided always that it is contained within the natural limits imposed upon it by individual responsibility), is, in itself, a cause of progress, a stimulus to production. This is how he formulates this admirable law, in the chapter on exchange:

"Other things being equal, an increase in the density of the population means an increase in productive capacity."

This principle, which has appeared paradoxical to some overhasty economists, is really an unquestionable truth, a fundamental axiom already accepted in economics in another form, as can be seen from the following considerations.

Imagine a society consisting of a number of groups of people spread over a vast area and having no exchange relations with one another, and suppose, further, that the doubling of the population places between each of these isolated groups of people others equal in numbers and wealth, having no more relations among themselves than with the first groups. Certainly, then, the increase in what could be called the total population and the general wealth (mere "wealth" and "population" would be meaningless here in the absence of unity) would in no way change the relative affluence or individual well-being of each producer. But things are quite different in reality; exchange, communication, mutual relations exist within a nation between man and man, village and village, town and country, province and province, etc.

Now, suppose that in such an already existing network we have a proportional increase in population and capital, that we interpolate, so to speak, a second population altogether equal in number, with other tools, other houses, other cultivated fields, or the same fields yielding twice as much in the way of crops, etc. (which is what we mean by other things being equal). Is it to be believed that, because the population and the means of production stand in the same numerical relation as before, the absolute well-being of each of the workers will not have changed? To draw this conclusion would be a very serious error. I affirm, on the contrary, that, by virtue of the very density of the population, production is facilitated, that is to say, well-being and real wealth are increased in considerable proportion.

Even from the very outset, before any change takes place in the division of labor, "the sole fact of proximity immediately renders more advantageous the same apparatus of exchange." §

It is as clear as day, for example, that much of the cost of transportation and cartage is diminished by half. And certainly this in itself is already an enormous benefit to all concerned, for to what purpose do we expend such immense efforts to lay out roads, dig canals, construct railways, etc., if not to bring things and men closer together—to effect, in a word, an artificial density of population?

Consider, for example, a peddler who, in the course of a day's work, travels with his pack on his back a distance of some six or eight leagues among a number of small, isolated dairy farms. He sells some thread, ribbons, cotton goods, sweetmeats, and hardware. By the end of the day he will have made about a dozen separate trips. Now, suppose twice the population occupies the same area. One or the other of the following consequences will occur: either he will be satisfied to serve the same clientele, in which case he will find his twelve buyers in a circuit reduced to from three to four leagues and will have half the day remaining to him to do something else; or, within the same area, he will sell twice as much. On either hypothesis, the same pains will procure him double the profit; or, if you will, by retaining the same absolute profit, he can diminish by half the relative profit that he gets from each object he sells.

I lived in a town where a tailor, in order to make me a pair of duck trousers, and a poor shoemaker, in order to produce a pair of hunting shoes, were obliged to make a round trip of some three leagues and to lose a good third of their working day in the process. If the population doubled, there would be a tailor and a shoemaker in each of the two towns. I would have mine at my door, and the other would find within the radius of a kilometer the same clientele that he had formerly served. The worker would gain a third of a day, and I would gain the value of the bottle of poor wine that I had to pay for his pains— other things being equal.

Distance plays an important—indeed, an enormous—role in all the details of production. I know of a number of fields situated as far as three or four kilometers from the farm to which they are attached. Fields are cultivated with the help of oxen, plodding beasts that would require two hours to make the trip. Here, then, are four hours that would be lost from each day's labor—four hours a day for seeding, four hours a day for harvesting, etc. Needless to say, one would not dream of transporting cattle this distance, and these fields lie idle for five or six years. But if the population doubles, some farms will be situated close to these tracts of land, they will be cultivated without difficulty, they will be kept fertile, and, in saying that they will easily yield three, four, five times more under these conditions, I think that no agriculturist will contradict me. I could multiply such proofs indefinitely.

But this is not all. "The density of the population not only results in a better use of the existing apparatus of exchange; it permits this apparatus itself to increase and improve by virtue of the division of labor." **

What is the effect of isolation? The impossibility of achieving a division of labor. In a primitive society, a settler on the land cuts the trees in the forest, carts them off, saws them into logs, fashions them into doors, ax handles, sabots, etc.

Yet we have to take account not only of the time lost and expenses incurred, but also of all the tools, all the incompletely mastered skills involved in these different kinds of labor. If, instead of isolated settlements or cabins, a village springs up, woodcutters will establish themselves in the forest, carters will devote their full time to transporting the wood, sawyers will cut it up, and there will be wheelwrights, carpenters, sabot-makers, etc. The whole process will be continuous, regular, without loss of time or energy; it will involve a minimum number of tools and a better and shorter period of apprenticeship, and it will be carried on with the dexterity and skill that come of long habit—all of which constitutes an enormous saving.

I speak of isolation; I could have spoken of association. To come to grips with Nature, man has need of a power and a continuity of action that numbers alone make possible. Five workers could not put up a jetty in three hundred years; set five hundred to work on the job, and within six months you will have an entire pier. Men differ more or less in their abilities according to circumstances. The more they combine their efforts in an irresistible union, the more they are able to deploy their different aptitudes in a common attack on the details of every problem. And there is no limit to the benefits to be derived from this kind of co-operation. Virtually every year, if one takes the trouble to observe it, our capital is increased, by virtue of a further intensification of the division of labor or of a vast concentration of forces in a particular industry.

But, however unquestionable may be the benefits derived from the division of labor, whether on a limited or on a massive scale, the great—indeed, the supreme advantage—consists in technological progress, in the invention of tools and machines. Now, this improvement is possible only through the division of labor, and the division of labor is possible only by virtue of the density of the population.

How would the isolated settler of whom we have just spoken have, I do not say the possibility, but even the idea, of finding a way to improve the primitive means he employs to make himself a tool, a door, or a pair of shoes? But once the job is divided up, with one person doing nothing but cut boards, another hammering the nails, still another curing hides, etc., with twenty times less inventive ingenuity than that of the half-savage individual who was obliged to shift entirely for himself, each of the co-operating workers, intent exclusively on the accomplishment of a single, limited task fully within his capacity and command, brings to it all his skill and knowledge and gradually improves his techniques and his tools of production. He will invent the saw, the adze, the plane, the auger, the forge, the bellows, etc., and later machines driven by water power or steam, gigantic furnaces, and rotary shears and saws that cut iron bars or trees the way a knife slices fruit.

All this labor is sustained, accelerated, co-ordinated in an endless movement, involving continual contact between man and man, kept in a constant state of tension by competition, and enlightened by the interaction and convergence of the discoveries of science, that great common hearth to whose radiant light every isolated glimmer of experience makes its contribution. But we need go no further in our description, for—I admit it quite readily—we are simply repeating platitudes. The fact is that Bastiat's statement is nothing but a reformulation of the famous axiom of the division of labor: The productive power of the human race is due to the density of the population. This is, indeed, the definition of civilization itself.

Yes, to the end of time there will be a necessary, reciprocal relation between the two terms of God's great commandment: Multiplicamini et subjicite universam terram. Wherever man multiplies (in the desired conditions of his social development), his power to subdue Nature to his will must multiply even more rapidly.

If two adjacent provinces are separated for a long time by an insuperable obstacle and finally succeed in breaking through the barrier at two or three points, will the well-being of each be increased by the resulting communication between them? Every economist will agree that it will. Would not the mutual advantages be notably increased if, instead of two or three points of contact, ten or twenty were created, or if the two provinces were to envelop and interpenetrate each other? Would they not reap the maximum advantage if it were possible to superpose them, to join them together, so that communication, even in regard to the smallest details, would be established between town and town, house and house, and man and man? Now, this hypothetical superposition is precisely what is accomplished by the increasing density of the population, all other things being equal.

We may remark, in passing, that this diminution in the natural difficulties of labor brought about by an increase in the proximity and numbers of the workers not only profoundly modifies the pessimistic conclusion of Malthus but also suffices to upset Ricardo's dismal theory of rent. There can be no doubt that the errors or the terrors of these two contemporaneous economists reinforced each other. While Ricardo, concerned with the pressure of population on the means of subsistence, assumed a progressing increase in the value of food which nothing in fact justifies, Malthus, for his part, found in Ricardo's theory of rent, which he took seriously, a vindication of his own exaggerated apprehensions.

I believe that a better insight into these matters will lead us to quite opposite conclusions, and that the two collateral laws of population and of rent (or, more generally, of capital) will be seen for what they really are: the expression of mankind's constant approach toward the gratuitous enjoyment of goods and the improvement of well-being through the employment of ever more readily available and more powerful natural resources and forces of Nature.

When the science of statistics is in a position to make the necessary measurements, it will verify in all its details this conclusion of Bastiat: that a necessary concomitant of any increase in a nation's population is an infinitely superior development in its productive capacity. And, to cite only one proof of this proposition, M. Moreau de Jonnès has established that, as the population of France doubled after 1700, the per capita consumption of wheat rose from 472 to 541 litres, to which must be added around 240 litres of potatoes and cereals. And surely, if the consumption of food, which is least susceptible to increase in weight and volume, has nonetheless risen to such a notable extent, how prodigious must have been the rise in the consumption of industrial products, in the use and enjoyment of goods above the level of mere animal satisfaction!

England would furnish us with proofs even more powerful in the enormous increase, within half a century, that has taken place in its consumption of cereals, coal, metals, manufactured products, etc. But what we have said so far must suffice; it is but the echo of a loftier thought, and it is not our function to add anything further to it.

In summary, then, in opposition to the alleged population explosion, we have to take into account, first, the motive of self-interest, which impels each individual to improve his own well-being and that of his family; secondly, habit, which converts every already acquired improvement in his well-being into a need and a necessity of life, prevents him from falling back to a lower standard of living, and induces him, without his even being aware of it, to progress, if only because he remains in an environment that is itself progressive; thirdly, and finally, the indefinite increase in the capacity of each producer consequent upon the very increase in their total number.

Bastiat does indeed emphasize the unnoticed and naturally preventive role played by the motive of self-interest and individual responsibility—the increasing desire for a higher standard of living, the ambition for something better. He also shows how habit, which for every man turns each newly acquired luxury into a positive want, becomes a lower limit to the means of existence, below which no man is willing to allow his family to be reduced. But this, in a way, is only the negative side of the law; it merely shows that, in any society based on private property and family, population cannot be a danger.

It remained for him to show that population can in itself be a positive force, to demonstrate the inevitable increase in the power of production that results from the density of population. This, as the author himself says, is the important point that Malthus neglects, and the point that, if understood, will reveal to us harmony, and not the discord Malthus had seen.

We present below the completely anti-Malthusian conclusions that Bastiat drew from the premises he indicated in the chapter on "Exchange," pp. 59-98, and which he proposed to treat more fully in his discussion of population. The following are among the last notes that he wrote, and he stressed their importance:

"In the chapter on exchange we demonstrated that in isolation man's wants exceed his productive capacities, that in society his productive capacities exceed his wants.

"This excess of productive capacities over wants results from exchange, that is, the union of efforts, the division of labor.

"Hence the action and reaction of cause and effect in an endless cycle of progress.

"The excess of productive capacity over wants, creating for each generation a surplus of wealth, allows it to rear a new generation more numerous than itself. And a larger oncoming generation is in itself a better and more basic kind of division of labor; it represents a new degree of the excess of productive capacities over wants.

"This is an admirable harmony!

"Thus, at any given time, if the sum total of general wants is represented by 100, and the sum total of productive capacities at 110, the excess ten is distributed, for example, five to improve living conditions, to stimulate wants of a higher order, to foster the sense of human dignity, etc., and five to increase the population.

"For the second generation, the wants are 110: five more directed toward quantity, and five toward quality.

"But because of this very fact (both fuller physical, intellectual, and moral development and greater density of population, which facilitates production) the means of production have also increased their potential. They are now represented, for example, by the figures 120 or 130.

"A new excess, a new distribution, etc.

"And let us not fear an overabundance; a higher order of wants, which is merely an expression of the sense of human dignity, constitutes in itself a natural limit on population."

In conclusion, then, we may say that, wherever institutions are based on the natural prerequisites of social order: the family—which presupposes the ownership of property; private property—which presupposes liberty; and liberty, which is inseparable from individual responsibility; a numerical increase in the population will always be accompanied by a more rapid increase in well-being and productive capacity.

All that God does, he does well; and social science reveals one and the same pervasive harmony throughout its domain.—Editor.]

* Essay on Population, Bk. III, chap. ii.

† Proudhon's definition of socialism ( Contradict. Économ., Vol. II, chap. xii, p. 381, Guillaumin edit.).

‡ This whole passage from Proudhon is magnificent. ( Contrad. Écon., chap. xii, pp. 463-467, 474-496.)

§ Bastiat, "Exchange."

** Bastiat, "Exchange."

NOTES TO CHAPTER 17

Chapter 20
Note:
[Job XII, 14. Bastiat's exact words for this passage are: "O tombe, vous êtes ma mère: Vers du Sépulcre, vous êtes mes frères et mes sœurs!" The actual words of the French Bible are closer to the English version given above. "J'ai crié à la fosse. Tu es mon frère, et aux vers: Vous êtes ma mère et ma sœur." These slight differences, as well as the fact that Bastiat attributes the words to "the psalmist" rather than to Job, suggest that he may have quoted from memory.—Translator.]
Note:
[Bastiat's reference here is obviously to the Constantinople of his day as a center of Mohammedanism, with its emphasis on fate (kismet), even as ancient Alexandria was a center of the Stoic philosophers.—Translator.]
Note:
[As would most Frenchmen of his time, Bastiat quotes this passage (Gen. 3: 17-19) from the Vulgate: sciens bonum et malum ..... In laboribus comedes ex terra cunctis diebus vitae tuae. Spinas et tribulos germinabit tibi. In sudore vultus tui vesceris pane, donec revertaris in terram de qua sumptus es: quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris.—Translator.]
Chapter 24
Note:
[This relatively long digression on Chateaubriand is to be explained by the fact that his Mémoires d'outre-tombe (1848-50), anticipated by public and critics as a world-shaking literary event, had just appeared as Bastiat was preparing these notes.—Translator.]

Chapter 25

Appendix
Note:
[Bastiat wrote this rough draft of a tentative preface, in the form of a letter addressed to himself, toward the end of 1847.—Editor.]
Note:
[Although Victor Hugo does refer more than once to the teeming population of Paris, the exact comparison that Bastiat probably had in mind here (and apparently could not remember well enough to quote) is to be found in another popular contemporary work, the satirical novel Jérôme Paturot (1843) by Louis Reybaud: ".... in this whirlpool of Paris, where so many lives are so intricately enmeshed, a single turn of the wheel can disperse them and break their contact.—Translator.]
Note:
[Bastiat here summarizes very briefly and accurately the high points in the legendary career of Lafayette: his participation in the American Revolution, the French Revolution of 1789, which drove out the Bourbon kings, and the Revolution of 1830; his "martyrdom" as prisoner of war in the infamous Austrian prison camp at Olmütz (1794); and his presentation before the city of Paris, at the Hôtel de Ville, as Commander-in-chief of the National Guard (1830). Bastiat also correctly refers to the disfavor into which Lafayette's name had fallen by 1845. The novelist Balzac, for example, speaks of Lafayette as an "old idol worshiped out of habit and fit only to be labeled and put into a museum for having viewed the world through rose-colored glasses."—Translator.]