Economic Harmonies

Frédéric Bastiat
Bastiat, Frédéric
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George B. de Huszar, trans. and W. Hayden Boyers, ed.
First Pub. Date
Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: Foundation for Economic Education, Inc.
Pub. Date
Introduction by Dean Russell

Notes to the Electronic Edition:

* Each footnote is marked in the text by a colored-coded superscript and in this footnote file according to its authorship as follows:

  • The author's original notes, color-coded red in the text and double-asterisked, are unbracketed and unlabeled below. They are grouped together with the French Editor's notes in the "EndNotes."
  • The French editor's notes, color-coded red in the text and double-asterisked, are bracketed and labeled "EDITOR" below. They are grouped together with the author's notes in the "EndNotes."
  • The translator's notes, color-coded blue in the text and single-asterisked, are bracketed and labeled "TRANSLATOR" below.

Table of Contents Translator's Notes to Selected Essays Author's and Editor's Notes to Selected Essays

Translator's Notes to Economic Harmonies.

Notes to the Introduction (by Dean Russell)

1. Frédéric Bastiat: Ideas and Influence (Foundation for Economic Education, 1963).

2. All translations in this Introduction are from the original French. Thus, my selection of words will doubtless differ somewhat from those chosen by the translator of the text. That, of course, is of no consequence.

Notes to "To the Youth of France"

3. ["I, too, am a painter," supposedly the young Correggio's words when he first saw Raphael's painting of Saint Cecilia.—Translator.]

4. [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.]

5. [Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), English economist. Cf. chapter 16 for Bastiat's discussion of his Essay on the Principle of Population.—Translator.]

6. [David Ricardo (1772-1823), English economist of the classical school.—Translator.]

7. [Alexis Charles Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (1805-1859), statesman and author of numerous significant books.—Translator.]

8. ["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.]

9. See preceding footnote.

10. See footnote supra on "socialists."

Chapter 1

11. [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.]

12. [Laissez passer: "allow to pass," only slightly different from laissez faire, which of course does not require translation. These phrases are associated with Quesnay and the other physiocrats.—Translator.]

13. [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.]

14. [Allusion to Le Phalanstère ou la réforme industrielle, the newspaper started by François Marie Charles Fourier in 1832. Fourier proposed a division of society into "phalanges" or large groups, each numbering about 1600 persons and occupying a common building, or phalanstère.—Translator.]

15. [This observation, attributed to Alfonso X, "The Learned" (1221-1284), is better known in English in the form given by Bartlett's Familiar Quotations: "Had I been present at the Creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the universe."—Translator.]

16. [In Rule XIII of his Rules for the Direction of the Mind (1629), Descartes suggests such an experiment with strings and weights.—Translator.]

17. [In the original French, groupes and séries, a reference to Fourier's phalanges and his proposed divisions according to occupation.—Translator.]

18. [François Marie Charles Fourier (1792-1837), French socialist and advocate of experimental societies, of which the best known in America was the famous Brook Farm. In addition to his newspaper, Le Phalanstère ou la réforme industrielle (cf. p. 9), he wrote other works.

Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), historic founder of French socialism, advocate of an industrial state directed by modern science. His works greatly influenced all socialist thought of his and the next generation.

Robert Owen (1771-1858), British reformer and socialist, active in efforts to improve factory workers' conditions.

Étienne Cabet (1788-1856), French socialist theorist and experimenter. He founded associations in France, Texas, and Illinois.

Louis Blanc (1811-1882), French politician and historian, creator of the "social workshop," which combined elements of the co-operative and the trade-union, attributed the evils of society to the pressures of competition, proposing instead "to each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities."—Translator.]

19. ["Never was there a promulgator of extraordinary laws in a nation who did not invoke God's authority."—Translator.]

20. ["Stake life on truth." The quotation comes from Juvenal, Satire IV, line 91 Rousseau used it as Bastiat indicates.—Translator.]

21. [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.]

22. [The national assembly formed during the Revolution (1792) to frame a constitution for France. It ruled the nation until October, 1795. The theories of Rousseau, particularly on equality, civic virtue, and religion, influenced profoundly many of the seven hundred eighty-two members.—Translator.]

23. [The métayage: a system of share-cropping established in the South of France.—Translator.]

24. ["Mind moves matter" (Virgil, Aeneid, VI, 727).—Translator.]

Chapter 2

25. [Reference to various utopias, classic and contemporary: Oceana, by James Harrington (1656); The New Atlantis (unfinished), by Francis Bacon; Salente (or Salentum), the imaginary site of an imaginary government in Télémaque (1699), by Fénelon (see note to chap. 3, p. 37); Spensone, the Millennium or Happy World, by Thomas Spense (1750-1814); Voyage to Icaria, by Étienne Cabet; Phalanstére (or phalanstery, housing), the model society of Fourier (see note to chap. 1, p. 9).—Translator.]

26. ["The heavens declare the glory of God." Psalm XIX.—Translator.]

27. [The Social Contract, Preamble to Book I.—Translator.]

28. [Bastiat had just been elected a Deputy to the National Assembly.—Translator.]

29. [Alphonse Marie Louis de Lamartine (1790-1869), one of the great poets of French romanticism and subsequently a distinguished statesman. First elected Deputy in 1834, he knew his greatest glory at the time of the Revolution of 1848, when he was a prime mover in the establishment of the Second Republic. By his eloquence he calmed the Paris mobs which threatened to destroy it, and became the head of the provisional government. More an idealist than practical politician, however, he soon lost influence and retired to private life in 1851.—Translator.]

30. [Louis Gabriel Ambroise, Vicomte de Bonald (1754-1840), French moraliste and political reactionary, author of various treatises on religious, social, and philosophical questions.—Translator.]

Chapter 3

31. [Quoted from Les Femmes savantes (The Learned Ladies) of Molière.—Translator.]

32. [François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon (1651-1715), Archbishop of Cambrai, preceptor to the grandson of Louis XIV, author of a collection of Fables, the Dialogues of the Dead, and Télémaque.—Translator.]

33. [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.]

34. [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.]

35. [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.]

36. [Barthélemy Charles Pierre Joseph Dunoyer (1786-1862), French economist and administrator.—Translator.]

Chapter 4

37. [Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), famous humanistic essayist of the Renaissance.—Translator.]

38. [Étienne Bonnot de Condillac (1714-1780), philosopher of the French Enlightenment. His main ideas on political economy are presented in Le Commerce et le gouvernement.—Translator.]

39. ["Because there is in it a soporific virtue that induces sleep." Argan, the "imaginary invalid," gives this answer in his doctor's examination, in Latin, at the end of Molière's comedy, Le Malade imaginaire.—Translator.]

40. [Already quoted by Bastiat in chap. 1. (See p. 2.)—Translator.]

41. [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.]

42. [Antoine-Louis-Claude Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836), disciple of Condillac and chief of the so-called "ideologue" school of philosophy.—Translator.]

43. [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.]

44. [The Quai Voltaire, an area along the Seine in Paris, where there are many booksellers' shops and stalls.—Translator.]

45. [Reference to the system established by Napoleon I providing government subsidies for the leading religious denominations.—Translator.]

46. [Cf. note, chap. 3, p. 37.—Translator.]

47. ["Let us make the experiment on a worthless body." Quoted by Antoine Teissier, Éloges des hommes sçavans (1585). Cf. Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (London, 1906).—Translator.]

48. [The Luxembourg Palace, the seat of the French Senate. The references in this paragraph are to the government's efforts to end unemployment, which resulted in the establishment of the relief measure known as the National Workshops.—Translator.]

49. [Universal suffrage had just been adopted by the Second Republic.—Translator.]

Chapter 5

50. [Étienne Bezout (1730-1783), French naval inspector and mathematician.—Translator.]

51. [Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755-1794), great-nephew of Voltaire, and author of plays and tales of some merit, but better known for his fables, which are generally recognized in France as second only to those of the great La Fontaine.

    Let us aid each other ....
    The burden of our ills will be the lighter ....
    Together we have all that fate to each denies.
      I have legs, and you have eyes.
    I shall carry you, and you will be my guide.
    Thus, without our friendship ever having to decide
    Which of us of greater use can be,
    I shall walk for you, and you will see for me.—Translator.]

52. [Nassau William Senior (1790-1864), English economist. First professor of political economy at Oxford.

Heinrich Friedrich von Storch (1766-1835), German economist, instructor to the imperial children.—Translator.]

53. [A remark concerning Protestants and Catholics attributed to Henry when he became King of France in 1589. Himself a Protestant, he became a Catholic in order to win the crown. His Edict of Nantes, providing religious tolerance for the entire nation, put an end to France's bloody Wars of Religion.—Translator.]

54. [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.]

55. [Elisa Felix Rachel (1820-1858), whose tremendous popularity at the Paris Théâtre Français in leading roles of Racine's tragedies was responsible for a revival of these seventeenth-century classics.—Translator.]

56. ["(I am a man); I consider none of the incidents that befall my fellow creatures to be a matter of unconcern to me." Terence, The Self-Tormentor, I, 1, 23.—Translator.]

57. [George Poulett Scrope (1797-1876), English economist and geologist, prolific writer of pamphlets, particularly in refutation of the Malthusian theory.—Translator.]

58. [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.]

59. [Cf. chap. 9, p. 252.—Translator.]

60. [These Latin phrases mean: "I give to you that you may give to me." "I give to you that you may do for me." "I do for you that you may give to me." "I do for you that you may do for me.—Translator.]

Chapter 6

61. [Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi (1773-1842), Swiss historian and economist.—Translator.]

62. [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.]

63. [Jean François Melon (d. 1738), French lawyer and minor government official, and political theorist.—Translator.]

64. [Sir William Petty (1623-1687), English economist. Author of numerous works on trade and vital statistics.—Translator.]

65. ["Whatever you say, I shall argue against it."—Translator.]

66. [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

67. [Cf. chap. 1, p. 9, note n15.—Translator.]

68. [The reference is obviously to Proudhon.—Translator.]

69. ["All men, but not I."—Translator.]

70. [Pierre Simon, Marquis de Laplace (1749-1827), French mathematician and astronomer.—Translator.]

71. [Jacques Cujas (1520-1590), a jurist from Toulouse.—Translator.]

72. ["It gains momentum as it goes along." The description of slander in Virgil's Aeneid, IV, 1, 175.—Translator.]

Chapter 8

73. [This is the famous and controversial answer Proudhon gave to his own question, What is Property? which is the title of his first published work (1840).—Translator.]

74. [An old quarter of Paris where low-priced goods are sold.—Translator.]

75. ["And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." Genesis, I, 3.—Translator.]

76. [In the original French: propriété ... exprime ... qu'une chose est propre à une personne ... qu'elle n'est propre à aucune autre."—Translator.]

77. [This famous statement is the opening sentence of the Second Part of the Discourse on the Origin of the Inequality among Men.—Translator.]

78. [Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), whose Utopia, published first in Latin in 1516 and later in English is a satire on the government and society of his day, which are compared with a fictitious island commonwealth, modeled on Platonic principles, where goods are owned in common.—Translator.]

79. [The reference here is to the Second Republic of 1848 (cf. chap. 3, p. 37).—Translator.]

80. ["Let us concern ourselves first with gaining a living; afterwards we may philosophize." A common adage of antiquity.—Translator.]

Chapter 9

81. [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.]

82. [Ibid., I, 368.—Translator.]

83. [David Buchanan, the younger (1779-1848), journalist, author on economic subjects, and editor of Adam Smith's works in 1814.—Translator.]

84. [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.]

85. [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.]

86. [John Ramsay McCulloch (1789-1864), British economist and statistician, author of Principles of Political Economy (1825).—Translator.]

87. [Antonio Scialoja (1817-1877), Italian economist and follower of the English school.—Translator.]

88. [Alvaro Florez Estrada (1765-1833), Spain's most distinguished economist of the first half of the nineteenth century.—Translator.]

89. [Jérôme Adolphe Blanqui (1798-1854), French economist and head of the Paris École de Commerce.—Translator.]

90. [Clement Joseph Garnier (1813-1881), commentator on Adam Smith and generally recognized as one of the ablest of the French economists. Professor in the Paris École supérieure de Commerce.—Translator.]

91. [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

92. [Legendary founder of Thebes, supposed to have brought the Phoenician alphabet to Greece. He is best known to mythology, of course, as the famous sower of the dragon's teeth.—Translator.]

93. [Legendary king of Eleusis, supposed to have invented the plow and to have taught agriculture to Attica.—Translator.]

Conclusion to Original Edition

94. ["The hand (literally, the finger) of God is here."—Translator.]

95. [Mythical king of Egypt, often confused with Rameses and other pharaohs of his dynasty.—Translator.]

96. [A body composed of the hierarchy of the Moslems.—Translator.]

97. [The slave of Mohammed, the first person to accept Mohammed's declaration that he was the special Prophet of Allah. Voltaire uses Seid (Gallicized to Séïde) as the symbol of blind fanatical devotion in his tragedy, Mahomet, ou le fanatisme.—Translator.]

98. [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

99. [The individual members of Fourier's phalanstery, or "harmonious" community, were called harmoniens, a term that he himself invented.—Translator.]

Chapter 12

100. [In this way Bastiat, of course, briefly summarizes the events of the Revolution of 1848.—Translator.]

Chapter 13

101. [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

102. [See chap. 5, p. 147.—Translator.]

103. [These are the mutual insurance associations best exemplified in Bastiat's time by the English Friendly Societies.—Translator.]

104. [Richard Cobden (1804-1865), English manufacturer, member of Parliament, and champion of free trade, known personally to Bastiat and much admired by him.—Translator.]

105. [Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850), English statesman, member of the Conservative Party, and Prime Minister in the 1840's.—Translator.]

106. [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.]

107. [Located in Pauillac, renowned for its vineyards producing Bordeaux wine.—Translator.]

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

108. [William Godwin (1756-1836), known as the author of The Adventures of Caleb Williams as well as of the essays in The Enquirer (1797), "Avarice and Profusion," "Riches and Poverty," and "Beggars," which dealt with "the general question of the future improvement of society." It was, of course, in answer to these that Malthus was first prompted to write his Essay on Population the following year. —Translator.]

109. [Pierre Leroux (1797-1871), French philosopher, publisher, and encyclopedist, a disciple of Saint-Simon. Editor of Le Globe.—Translator.]

110. [Alexandre Moreau de Jonnès (1778-1870), French statistician. Director of statistics for the French government (1834-1852).—Translator.]

111. [Bastiat prefers to call Malthus' "positive" check the "repressive" check (l'obstacle répressif). His preference is respected in the following pages.—Translator.]

112. [Félicité de Lamennais (1782-1854), French philosopher, Catholic priest, reformer, and ardent champion of the working classes.—Translator.]

113. [In French, la contrainte morale.—Translator.]

114. [In French, le métayage, as distinguished from le fermage. Cf. chap. 1, p. 18.—Translator.]

Chapter 17

115. [Louis Marie de la Haye, Vicomte de Cormenin (1788-1868), French jurist and political pamphleteer.—Translator.]

116. [Luke XIV, 23: "And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and constrain them to come in." These words from the Parable of the Great Supper have historically been used as a pretext to force someone to do a thing against his will on the ground that it is to his ultimate good. Its greatest abuse was as a justification for the persecution of the heretics.—Translator.]

117. [This description of the aftermath of the February Revolution should be compared with the similar passage in chap. 4, pp. 87 ff.—Translator.]

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

118. [Charles Comte (1782-1837), French economist, son-in-law of J. B. Say. Co-editor, with Charles Dunoyer, of Le Censeur européen.—Translator.]

119. [Saint-Marc Girardin (1801-1873), literary critic and scholar, professor of literature in the Sorbonne, member of the French Academy, also active in political life.—Translator.]

120. [In French, prévoir and pourvoir.—Translator.]

Chapter 20

121. [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.]

122. [Victor-Antoine Hennequin (1816-1854), disciple of Fourier, active political supporter of his ideas, and ally of Considérant.—Translator.]

123. [One of the divisions of Fourier's phalanges.—Translator.]

124. [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.]

125. [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.]

126. ["In a paradise of delight."—Translator.]

127. ["Knowledge of good and evil."—Translator.]

128. [Cf. Matt. 5: 17-48.—Translator.]

129. [Matt. 5:39.—Translator.]

130. ["The sweet state of doing nothing."—Translator.]

131. [The Holy League, organized in 1576 by the Duc de Guise, had as its secret objective the overthrow of King Henry III of France.—Translator.]

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

132. [Jacques Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704), bishop of Condom and of Meaux, was the outstanding pulpit orator of his day, his funeral orations for members of the royal family ranking as brilliant examples of French classical style and power. As tutor to the heir apparent, the son of Louis XIV, he wrote his Histoire universelle, one of the classics on which French school children were raised for generations. His vigorous stand against Protestantism and his successful leadership of the Gallican movement, which brought increased independence to the Catholic Church in France, reveal him as an important ecclesiastical, as well as literary figure.—Translator.]

133. [Joseph Droz (1773-1850), French philosopher and economist, member of the French Academy.—Translator.]

134. [Dominique François Arago (1786-1853), famous French scientist and statesman, member of the provisional government of 1848, and the Minister of War and the Navy.—Translator.]

135. [James Harrington (1611-1677), English political philosopher, whose work on the ideal state, entitled Commonwealth of Oceana (1656), advocating a written constitution, rotation of magistrates and legislators, indirect election of the president, the secret ballot, and agrarian reforms, is believed to have influenced political thought in the United States and other democracies.—Translator.]

Chapter 23

136. [Vicomte François René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), a forerunner of the romantic movement in French literature, and a royalist in politics. He served the restored Bourbon monarchy, after the fall of Napoleon, as ambassador to England and Germany and as Minister of Foreign Affairs. His most famous works are The Genius of Christianity and Memoirs from beyond the Tomb.—Translator.]

Chapter 24

137. [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

138. [Our "final reason."—Translator.]


139. ["Of everything knowable, and a few other things too," a proverbial parody of the pretentious motto of the philosopher Pico della Mirandola—"to know everything knowable," the title of his "Nine Hundred Propositions."—Translator.]

140. [The French text has been somewhat simplified here.—Translator.]

141. [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.]

142. [Benjamin Constant de Rebecque (1767-1830), liberal politician and author. Today he is remembered chiefly as the author of the romantic novel Adolphe and as the lover of Mme. de Staël.—Translator.]

143. [Jacques Antoine Manuel (1775-1827), a noted orator and member of the opposition during the Restoration.—Translator.]

144. [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.]

145. [Charles James Fox (1749-1806), British statesman, chief of the Whig party, and advocate of friendship with France.—Translator.]

Author and Editor's Notes to Economic Harmonies.

NOTE TO AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION ("To the Youth of France")

1. I can illustrate this law more clearly by figures. Let us take three periods during which capital increases while labor remains constant, and let us represent total production in each of the three periods as: 80-100-120. The distribution will be as follows:

Capital's Share Labor's Share Total
First period 45 35 80
Second period 50 50 100
Third period 55 65 120

Of course, these ratios are intended to serve only as an illustration.


2. [This chapter was published for the first time in the Journal des économistes, in the January, 1848, issue.—Editor.]

3. 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.)*


4. [This chapter and the next were inserted in September and December, 1818, in the Journal des économistes.—Editor.]

5. "Our industrial system, based on irresponsible and unorganized competition, is nothing but a social hell, in which vast numbers of men suffer all the torments and all the agonies of ancient Taenarus; with one difference, however: the victims." (V. Considérant.)

6. [See chap. 2 of the second series of Economic Sophisms.—Editor.]


7. This is a very common mathematical law, but one little understood in political economy.

8. One of the secondary aims of this book is to combat those modern sentimentalist schools which, despite the facts, refuse to accept the idea that suffering, in any degree whatsoever, has a providential purpose. As these schools profess to stem from Rousseau, I must quote them this passage from the master: "The evil that we see is not an absolute evil; and, far from being in direct conflict with the good, it co-operates with the good for the universal harmony."


9. Even more, this slave, because of his superiority, eventually reduces the cost of other slaves and sets them at liberty. This is a harmony whose implications I leave to the reader.

10. [What follows is a note found among the author's papers. Had he lived, he would have incorporated it among his theories on exchange. Our function must be limited to including it at the end of the present chapter.—Editor.]

11. [See, for the refutation of this fallacy, the chapter "Producer and Consumer," which follows in this volume, and also chapters 2 and 3 of Economic Sophisms, First Series.—Editor.]


12. Increases! The object, then, had value in itself before any human labor was performed upon it. It could have received it only from Nature. Therefore, the action of Nature is not gratuitous. Who, then, has the audacity to demand payment for the extrahuman part of value?

13. Because, under a regime of liberty, individual services enter into competition with one another, their remuneration tends to become approximately proportionate to the intensity of the labor involved. But, I repeat, this balance, this proportionality, is not inherent in the notion of value. Proof of this can be found in the fact that where there is no competition, there is no proportionality either. In this case no relationship is to be observed between the nature of the labor and the amount of its remuneration.

The absence of competition can arise from the nature of things or from the perversity of mankind.

If it arises from the nature of things, we may see a relatively modest expenditure of effort producing great value without anyone's having just cause for complaint. This is the case of the person finding a diamond; this is also the case of Rubini,* of Malibran, of Taglioni, of the fashionable tailor of the moment, of the proprietor of the Clos-Vougeot, etc., etc. Circumstances have given them extraordinary means of rendering service; they have no rivals, and their prices are high. The very fact of the extreme scarcity of the service is proof that it is not essential to the well-being and progress of mankind. It is, therefore, a luxury item, an object of ostentation available to the wealthy. Is it not natural that every man, before indulging in satisfactions of this nature, should wait until he is able to provide for his more basic and reasonable wants?

If competition is absent because some human agency has done violence to the natural balance, the same effects are produced, but with this tremendous difference, that they are produced in places and at times where and when they should not be produced. Then we see a relatively minor piece of work creating great value; but how? By stifling violently the competition whose function it is to relate remuneration to service. Then, even as Rubini can say to a music-lover, "I want a very high honorarium, or I will not sing for your guests"—acting on the principle that the service here is one that only he can render—so can a baker, a butcher, a landlord, a banker say, "I want exorbitant payment, or else you will not receive my wheat, my bread, my meat, my gold; and I have taken precautions: I have lined up rows of bayonets so that you cannot procure these things elsewhere, so that no one else may render you services analogous to mine."

People who class together artificial monopoly and what they call natural monopoly, because both have in common the power of increasing the value of labor, are either quite blind or quite superficial.

Artificial monopoly is downright plunder. It produces evils that otherwise would not exist. It inflicts hardship on a considerable part of society, because it often includes the most vital articles. In addition it gives rise to resentments, hatred, reprisals, all the fruits of injustice.

The favors bestowed by Nature do no harm to society. At the very most we could say that they bring to light an evil that already existed and can in no way be imputed to them. It is too bad, perhaps, that tokay wine is not as plentiful, and therefore not as cheap, as ordinary red wine. But this is not a social evil; it was imposed on us by Nature. There is, then, between the favors bestowed by Nature and artificial monopoly this profound difference: the former are the result of pre-existent and inevitable scarcity; the latter is the cause of artificial and unnatural scarcity.

In the first case it is not the absence of competition that creates the scarcity; it is the scarcity that explains the absence of competition. Mankind would be childish indeed if it became upset, or if it rebelled, because there is only one Jenny Lind, one Clos-Vougeot, or one Regent.

In the second case quite the contrary is true. It is not because of a providentially created scarcity that competition is impossible, but because force has stifled competition, because a scarcity has been created that should never have been. [Note taken from the author's manuscripts.—Editor.]

14. See chap. 15. Accumulation is a circumstance of no consequence in political economy. Whether satisfaction is immediate or delayed, whether it can be postponed or separated from the effort that produces it, in no way changes the nature of things.

I am disposed to make a sacrifice for the pleasure of hearing a beautiful voice. I go to the theater and I pay; the satisfaction is immediate. If I had used my money to buy a dish of strawberries, I should have been able to postpone my satisfaction until the next day; that is all.

It can be said, of course, that the strawberries represent wealth, because I can still exchange them. That is true. Once the effort has been exerted, as long as the satisfaction remains unfulfilled, the wealth still exists. It is the satisfaction that destroys the wealth. When the dish of strawberries is eaten, this satisfaction will go the way of the other that brought me Alboni's* voice.

Service received, service rendered; such is political economy. [Note taken from the author's manuscript.—Editor.]

15. [What follows was intended by the author to be included in the present chapter.—Editor.]

16. Treatise on Political Economy, p. 1.


17. Nouvel essai sur la richesse des nations, p. 438.

18. Ibid., p. 263.

19. Ibid., p. 456.

20. Ibid., p. 456.

21. Ibid., p. 161.

22. Ibid., p. 168.

23. Ibid., p. 168.

24. Ibid., p. 63.

25. "If you take a stand in favor of competition, you will be wrong; if you take a stand against it, you will still be wrong: which means that either way you will be right." (P. J. Proudhon, Economic Contradictions, page 182.)

26. Always this eternal and hateful confusion between value and utility. I can easily show you utilities that belong to no one, but I defy you to show me anywhere in the world a single value that has no owner.

27. [What follows is the beginning of a supplementary note found among the author's papers.—Editor.]

28. [This last entry of the author is accompanied by no further comment. But other chapters in this volume supply it. Note particularly "Private Property and Common Wealth," "Relations between Political Economy and Ethics," and "Solidarity."—Editor.]


29. See my monograph Capital and Rent.

30. Chap. 3, pp. 64 ff.


31. See chap. 11.


32. Éléments de l'économie politique, 2nd ed., p. 293.

33. Ibid., pp. 377-378.

34. [The words in italics and capitals are printed thus in the original text.—Editor.]

35. Théorie du droit de propriété et du droit au travail, 3rd ed., p. 15.

36. [See Vol. II (of the French edition), Discours du 29 septembre, 1846.—Editor.]

37. Proceedings of the South Australian Association.

38. New Monthly Magazine.

39. Ricardo.


40. Chap. 1, pp. 3 ff.

41. See chap. 5, note 1.


42. [Here ends the original edition of Economic Harmonies. We reproduce here the list of chapters, found in the author's handwriting, intended to complete the book. It indicates the writings he had planned and also the order that we have followed for the chapters, fragments, and outlines that were entrusted to us. The asterisks indicate subjects on which we have found no material.—Editor.]

Normal Phenomena

    1. Producer and Consumer
    2. The Two Mottoes
    3. Theory of Rent
    4. Money*
    5. Credit*
    6. Wages
    7. Saving
    8. Population
    9. Private and Public Services
    10. Taxation*


    11. Machinery*
    12. Free Trade*
    13. Middlemen*
    14. Raw Materials and Finished Goods*
    15. Luxury*

Disturbing Factors

    16. Plunder
    17. War
    18. Slavery*
    19. Theocracy*
    20. Monopoly*
    21. Government Exploitation*
    22. False Brotherhood or Communism*

General Observations

    23. Responsibility and Solidarity
    24. Self-Interest or Social Motivation
    25. Perfectibility
    26. Public Opinion*
    27. Relation between Political Economy and Ethics*
    28. Relation between Political Economy and Politics*
    29. Relation between Political Economy and Legislation*
    30. Relation between Political Economy and Religion*


43. [Economic Sophisms, chap. 1 (First Series), p. 5.—Editor.]

44. [See the author's address on "Taxation on Beverages," Vol. V (of the French edition), p. 468.—Editor.]

45. See chap. 6.

46. [See Vol. IV (of the French edition), p. 72.—Editor.]


47. See chaps. 10 and 11.

48. When the vanguard of the Icarian expedition left Le Havre, I questioned a number of these foolish men in order to find out what was at the back of their minds. An easy life was their hope and their motive. One of them said to me, "I am leaving now, and my brother is to go on the next trip. He has eight children, and you can understand what a help it will be to him not to have to feed and care for them any more."

"I understand completely," I said; "but other people will have to accept this heavy burden."

To load one's burdens onto the shoulders of others—such was the interpretation that these poor wretches gave to the fraternal motto, all for one.

49. [See the pamphlet "Plunder and Law" (Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 8).—Editor.]


50. [The author has left only two or three short fragments on this important chapter. The reason is that he intended, as he said, to rely principally on the works of Mr. Carey of Philadelphia to refute Ricardo's theory.—Editor.]

51. [The same idea is presented at the end of the supplement to chap. 5.—Editor.]

52. [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.]

53. [See "Accursed Money!" Vol. V (of the French edition), p. 64.—Editor.]

54. [See "Interest-free Credit," Vol. V (of the French edition), p. 94.—Editor.]


55. [Chap. 1, p. 7, and chap. 2, pp. 20-21.—Editor.]

56. [See the later chapter on "Responsibility."—Editor.]

57. [See, in Vol. IV (of the French edition), "The Law," and particularly, pp. 360 ff. (Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 2).—Editor.]

58. It is to be noted that Mr. Roebuck belongs to the extreme Left in the House of Commons. In this capacity he is the natural enemy of all imaginable governments; yet at the same time he advocates absorption by the government of all rights and all functions. The proverb is therefore false that says, "Never the twain shall meet."

59. Quoted from La Presse, June 22, 1850.

60. [See Vol. III (of the French edition), pp. 442-445.—Editor.]

61. The riots of June, 1848.

62. Chap. 7, p. 193.

63. [See chap. 4.—Editor.]

64. Chap. 7.

65. [The manuscript brought from Rome ends here. The short note that follows was found among the papers that the author had left in Paris. It indicates how he had proposed to end and sum up this chapter.—Editor.]

Improvement in the workers' status consists in wages themselves and in the natural laws that govern them.

1. The worker tends to rise to the rank of an entrepreneur having capital resources.

2. Wages tend to rise.

Corollary: Passing from the status of wage earner to entrepreneur becomes increasingly less desirable and easier.


66. [What follows was written in 1846.—Editor.]

67. It is only fair to mention that Say recognized the means of existence as a variable quantity.

68. There are few countries whose populations do not tend to increase beyond the means of subsistence. So constant an increase as this must necessarily create distress among the lower classes and prevent any permanent amelioration in their condition. .... The principle of population.... will increase the number of people before the means of subsistence are increased. —Malthus, quoted by Rossi.*

69. [See chap. 11, pp. 336 ff.—Editor.]

70. Which creates a need for the day laborer.

71. [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.]


72. "As soon as this value is paid by the taxpayer, it is lost to him; as soon as it is consumed by the government, it is lost to everybody and does not revert to society." (Say, Traité d'économie politique, Bk. III, chap. 9, p. 504.)

Undoubtedly, but society receives in return the service that is rendered—protection, for example. Besides, Say reverts to the correct doctrine a few lines farther on, in these terms:

"To levy a tax is to do society a wrong, a wrong that is compensated for by no advantage, whenever no service is rendered in return." (Ibid.)

73. "Public taxes, even with the nation's consent, are a violation of property rights, since they can be levied only on values that have been produced by the land, the capital, or the industry of private individuals. Thus, whenever they exceed the indispensable minimum necessary for the preservation of society, they may justly be considered as an act of plunder." (Ibid.)

Here again the qualifying clause corrects what would otherwise have been too sweeping a statement. The doctrine that services are exchanged for services greatly simplifies both the problem and its solution.

74. The effects of this transformation are given concrete meaning by an example cited by M. d'Hautpoul, the Minister of War. "Each soldier," he said, "receives sixteen centimes a day for his food. The government takes these sixteen centimes from him and agrees to feed him. The result is that every soldier has precisely the same ration, whether it fits his individual needs or not. One has too much bread and throws it away. Another does not have enough meat, etc. We have tried an experiment: We allow the soldiers to spend the sixteen centimes for whatever they wish, and we are happy to find a perceptible improvement in their condition. Each one consults his own taste, his inclinations, and current prices. Generally speaking, they have, of their own accord, partially substituted meat for bread. Here they buy more bread, there more meat, elsewhere more vegetables, in another place more fish. Their health has benefited; they are more content, and the state has been freed of a great responsibility."

The reader will understand that we are not here considering this experiment from the military point of view. I cite it as illustrating a primary difference between public service and private service, between regimentation and freedom. Would it be better for the state to take from us the resources whereby we provide ourselves with food and to assume the responsibility of feeding us, or to leave us both the resources and the responsibility for providing our own sustenance? The same question may be raised in regard to every one of our wants.

75. [See the pamphlet entitled "Academic Degrees and Socialism" (Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 9).—Editor.]

76. [The author in one of his previous works proposed to answer this same question. He investigated the subject of the legitimate domain of the law. All the arguments contained in the pamphlet entitled "The Law" (Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 2) apply to his present thesis. We refer the reader to it.—Editor.]

77. [The manuscript ends here. We refer our readers to the pamphlet entitled "Plunder and Law" (Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 8), in the second part of which the author gives their just due to the sophisms pronounced at this meeting of the General Council.

In regard to the six chapters which were to follow, under the titles of Taxation, Machinery, Free Trade, Middlemen, Raw Materials, Luxury, we refer the reader to: (1) the discourse on the tax on beverages inserted in the second edition of the pamphlet "Parliamentary Inconsistencies"; (2) the pamphlet entitled "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen" (Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 1); (3) Economic Sophisms.—Editor.]


78. [The author was unable to continue this study of the errors that are, for those led astray by them, a cause of almost immediate suffering, nor was he able to describe another class of errors, characterized by violence and fraud, whose first effects fall most severely on others. His notes contain nothing relating to disturbing factors, except the preceding fragment and the one that follows. We also refer the reader to chapter 1 of the second series of the Sophisms, entitled "The Physiology of Plunder."—Editor.]


79. [See the end of chapter 11.—Editor.]

80. We forget this when we ask: Is slave labor cheaper or more expensive than free labor?

81. [See "Academic Degrees and Socialism" (Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 9).—Editor.]


82. [.... because I believe that a higher Power directs it, because, since God can intervene in the moral order only through the instrumentality of each man's self-interest and will, the resulting action of various interests and wills cannot lead to ultimate evil; for otherwise it would not be man or the human race alone that is on the road to error, but God Himself who, in virtue of His impotence or cruelty, would be leading His imperfect creature on to evil.

We therefore believe in liberty because we believe in the harmony of the universe, that is, in God. Proclaiming in the name of faith, formulating in the name of science, the divine laws, flexible and vital, of our dynamic moral order, we utterly reject the narrow, unwieldy, and static institutions that some men in their blindness would heedlessly introduce into this admirable mechanism. It would be absurd for an atheist to say: Laissez faire! Leave it to chance! But we, who are believers, have the right to cry: Laissez passer! Let God's order and justice prevail! Let human initiative, the marvelous and unfailing transmitter of all man's motive power, function freely! And freedom, thus understood, is no longer an anarchistic deification of individualism; what we worship, above and beyond man's activity, is God directing all.

We are well aware that man may err; indeed, his capacity for error is as great as the distance separating well-founded knowledge from truth still only vaguely, intuitively sensed. But since it is his nature to seek, it is his destiny to find. Truth, let us observe, has a harmonious relation, an inevitable affinity, not only with the form of man's understanding and the instincts of his heart, but also with all the physical and moral conditions of his life; so that even though it may elude his intellectual comprehension as absolute truth, or his intuition as morally just, or his aesthetic sense as beautiful, it will still win his ultimate acceptance by the practical and irrefutable argument that it is useful.

We know that free will can lead to evil. But evil, too, has its mission. God surely did not haphazardly cast it in our way to make us fall; he set it, as it were, on either side of the path that we were to follow, in order that man, striking against it, should by evil itself be brought back to the good.

Our wills, like inert molecules, have their law of gravitation. But—whereas inanimate things obey pre-existent and inevitable tendencies—for beings endowed with reason and free will, the force of attraction and repulsion does not precede the action. It springs from the determination of the will and seems to await its call; it is developed by the act itself, and it then reacts for or against the agent by a progressive effort of co-operation or of resistance that we call reward or punishment, pleasure or pain. If the will's direction is in accord with general laws, if the act is good, the impulse is encouraged, and the result for man is a state of well-being. If, on the contrary, it takes a wrong direction, if it is bad, its progress is stopped; from error comes pain, which is its remedy and its bitter end. Thus, evil constantly combats evil, even as good constantly inspires good. And we might say that, when seen from a higher point of view, the deviations of free will are confined to a few oscillations of fixed amplitude, while the general course remains unchanged and unchangeable, every counter-movement of any intensity succeeding only in destroying itself, without in any way disturbing the orbit.

This force of action and reaction, which, by reward and pain, controls the orbit, which is at once voluntary and predestined, of the human race, this law of gravitation for beings endowed with free will (of which evil is the necessary half) expresses itself in two great principles—responsibility and solidarity—one of which brings home to the individual, while the other distributes over the body politic, the good or bad consequences of any act. The one speaks to the individual as though isolated and autonomous; the other brings him within the common fold, sharing unavoidably in the good or bad that befalls others, as an incomplete element, a dependent member, of a composite, imperishable whole, which is mankind. Responsibility is the sanction of individual liberty, the justification of the rights of man. Solidarity is the proof of his social dependence and the origin of his duties.

(A page was missing from Bastiat's manuscript. The reader will pardon me for attempting to continue the thought of this religious introduction.)—Editor.]

83. Religion (religare, to rebind), that which connects our present life with the life to come, the living with the dead, time with eternity, the finite with the infinite, man with God.

84. Could we not say that divine justice, which seems so incomprehensible when we consider the fate of individuals, becomes strikingly clear when we reflect on the destiny of nations? The life of every man is a drama whose action is begun on one stage and is completed on another; but such is not the case with the life of nations. That instructive tragedy begins and ends on earth. That is why history is a part of Holy Writ; it reveals the justice of Providence. (De Custines, La Russie.)

85. [Unfortunately the author did not live to deal with the interesting ramifications of this idea, which he had proposed to present here by means of concrete illustrations, although he did indicate what their general character was to be. The reader will be able to compensate in part for their loss by referring to chapter 16 of this book, and to chapters 7 and 11 of the pamphlet "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen" (Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap. 1).—Editor.]

86. [The end of this chapter is little more than a series of notes thrown together without transitions or development.—Editor.]


87. [These rough notes come to an abrupt end at this point; the economic aspect of the law of solidarity is not indicated. We refer the reader to chapters 10 and 11, "Competition," and "Producer and Consumer."

And, after all, what is, at bottom, the whole operation of the laws of social harmony, what are the consonance of men's interests and the great maxims: The prosperity of each is the prosperity of all; the prosperity of all is the prosperity of each, etc.; what is the congruity between private property and common wealth, the services of capital, the increase of gratuitous utility, etc.; except the development from the utilitarian viewpoint of the very title of this chapter: Solidarity?—Editor.]


88. "Poverty is political economy's doing..... Political economy has to have death come to its aid..... It is the theory of instability and theft." (Proudhon, Economic Contradictions, Vol. II, p. 214.)

"If the people lack the means of subsistence.... it is the fault of political economy." (Ibid., p. 430.)


89. Mémoires d'outre-tombe, Vol. XI.


90. [The author unfortunately left no material on the four chapters indicated here, and which he had included in the plan of his work, except the introduction to the last one.—Editor.]


91. [Bastiat wrote this rough draft of a tentative preface, in the form of a letter addressed to himself, toward the end of 1847.—Editor.]

End of Notes

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