The Society of To-morrow: A Forecast of Its Political and Economic Organisation

Gustave de Molinari
Molinari, Gustave de
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P. H. Lee Warner, trans.
First Pub. Date
New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Pub. Date
Appendix by Edward Atkinson, Introduction by Hodgson Pratt, Prefatory letter by Frédéric Passy.

Part I, Chapter III

Competition Between States in Process of Civilisation


No sooner did the exploitation of conquered territory and subject populations become general, with the consequent rise of Political States—of the States—than the conquering communities became involved in two other forms of competition. Certain particularly warlike tribes persisted in the practices of destruction and of pillage, while the States, as between themselves, sought every possible means of expansion.


Like the founders and proprietors of any other business, the owners of a political State desired to increase the profits of the industry from which they obtained a livelihood. They might achieve this either by increasing the nett yields of their enterprise, the exploitation of subjects, or they could expand, win new territory, and, in consequence, new subjects. But the first method required a degree of progress which was not realisable in a day: the labour of their employés had to be rendered more productive by better administration and by improved methods of exploitation. An enlarged measure of liberty, and the enjoyment of an increased proportion of their own earnings, must also be secured to the workers. Now the absolutism of those who owned the States, sanctioned by right of appropriation and conquest, no less than by the overwhelming superiority of organised power, allowed them to use their subjects as mere chattels. Natural cupidity allotted to this "human cattle" no more than the mere necessaries of existence, often far less, and it was only long and costly experience of the loss caused by their own greed which forced statesmen to recognise that the surest and most efficacious means of enlarging their nett profit—whether taken in guise of forced labour or as taxes, in kind or in money—was to encourage the producer to increase his gross output.


To obtain new territory and more subjects was comparatively easy. It was a conception appealing naturally to the spirit and capacity of a conquering caste, and it appears, in every age and in all cases, as the first, often the sole, aim of their political system.


But there were latent consequences in this race for territory and subjects to exploit, which the competitors never guessed. The owners of a State, liable to total, or partial, dispossession at the hands of a rival, maintained their position subject to neglecting none of the many activities which consolidate and guarantee the integrity of a political association. They had to learn that the perfection of the material, art, and personnel of armies, is of little value when unaccompanied by a similar development of political and civil institutions, of the fiscal and economic systems.


Everywhere and in every age, it is this form of competition which stimulated men to perfect the institutions of politics and war, of the civil, fiscal, and economic State. Always and in all ages, also, the more progressive communities—those which develop their destructive and productive institutions to the highest degree—become the strongest and win the race. Our earlier volumes have seen this process at work. We have seen that improved agents of destruction advance production by continually enlarging its outlets. The security of civilisation has been assured neither by the arts of peace nor yet by those of war, but by the cooperation of both.*7

Notes for this chapter

See the author's "l'Evolution Economique du XIXme Siècle" and also "l'Evolution Politique et la Révolution."

End of Notes

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