The Society of To-morrow: A Forecast of Its Political and Economic Organisation
By Gustave de Molinari
It is fortunate for the modern world that there is a considerable number of persons who have time, inclination, and ability to inquire how human communities may best secure a prosperous existence and ultimate salvation from disasters or even annihilation. It is fortunate that the necessity is so widely felt of making such inquiries, and that there is so great an accumulation of facts, and of arguments based thereon, as to enable thinkers to arrive at a complete knowledge of the dangers which menace society, and of the best way of dealing with them. We greatly need light from men who are capable of giving answers to such questions as the following: “What should be the definite aim of all human societies? Whither tend the communities and nations now in existence? What are their special dangers, and how can they best be averted? What should be the true ideals of every people, so that they may be kept clearly in view and realised?”Such wise and thoughtful books as that of M. de Molinari, the well-known and most distinguished economist, should be carefully studied by all who care for the welfare of their fellow-men. He stimulates thought and consideration regarding these great problems, and produces masses of fact and argument, which enable his readers to think solidly and effectively. [From the Introduction]
P. H. Lee Warner, trans.
First Pub. Date
New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons
First published in French. Appendix by Edward Atkinson, Introduction by Hodgson Pratt, Prefatory letter by Frédéric Passy.
The text of this edition is in the public domain.Picture of Gustave de Molinari is a detail from a photograph provided by David Hart..
- Part I, Chap. 2, Competition Between Primitive Communities and Its Results
- Part I, Chap. 3, Competition Between States in Process of Civilisation
- Part I, Chap. 4, Decline of Destructive Competition
- Part I, Chap. 5, Why the State of War Continues When It No Longer Fulfils a Purpose
- Part I, Chap. 6, Consequences of the Perpetuation of the State of War
- Part II, Chap. 1, The Collective Guarantee of the Security of Nations
- Part II, Chap. 2, The Free Constitution of Nationality
- Part II, Chap. 3, Free Constitution of Governments and Their Natural Functions
- Part II, Chap. 4, Free Constitution of Governments and Their Natural Functions (continued)
- Part II, Chap. 5, Free Constitution of Governments and Their Natural Functions (continued)
- Part II, Chap. 6, Subjection and Sovereignty of the Individual
- Part II, Chap. 7, Impost and Contribution
- Part II, Chap. 8, Production of Articles of Naturally Individual Consumption
- Part II, Chap. 9, Equilibrium of Production and Consumption
- Part II, Chap. 10, Distribution of Products and the Share of Capital in the Proceeds of Production
- Part II, Chap. 11, Distribution of Products and the Share of Labour in the Proceeds of Production
- Part II, Chap. 12, The Problem of Population
- Part II, Chap. 13, Consumption
- Part II, Chap. 14, The Expansion of Civilisation
- Part II, Chap. 15, Summary and Conclusion
- Part III, Note A, The Czar and Disarmament
- Part III, Note B, Syndicates Restricting Competition, or Trusts
- Part III, Note C, Effects of Industrial Progress on the Sphere of Production
- Part III, Note D, Costs and Profits of State Colonisation
- Part III, Note E, The Economic and Socialist Conceptions of the Society of the Future
- Appendix, The Cost to the United States of War and of Preparation for War from 1898 to 1904, by Edward Atkinson
Competition Between Primitive Communities and Its Results
Part I, Chapter II
As population began to outgrow the means of subsistence, which mankind had not yet learned to increase by artificial methods, primitive society was compelled to choose between the elimination of excess population, or the seizure of hunting grounds, or sources of agricultural supply, belonging to some neighbouring tribe. The strong again survived and the weak disappeared. But the new system of association was already securing a certain leisure and a degree of relief from the need for continuous effort. The more intelligent among the inferior powers seized their opportunity, and under the continual spur of the need of survival invented arms and methods of destruction which altered the natural balance of power. Victory inclined to their side, at least until the men of sinews had learned to profit by their superior wisdom and to imitate their skill.
But a second result had occurred in the meanwhile. Engines of destruction were as useful in the field as in actual strife, and an improved art of war soon decreased the numbers of the wild animals. Here was a novel stimulus, at least for those tribes whose strength was insufficient to dispossess a neighbour. Habits of observation and the creative faculty, responding to the motive of need, realised that decisive step on the road of progress which, once and for all, lifted humanity beyond the regions of mere animalism. For the systematic destruction which he shared with the beasts, and which limited his numbers to the natural means of subsistence, man substituted the productive industries and, by acquiring the power of indefinitely expanding the means of subsistence, stood forth lord of creation.
Great nations, amply furnished with all that is needful for the maintenance of life, now succeed the tribes of a few hundred individuals which snatched a precarious existence from vast territories. But the identical causes which made their rise possible placed these nations face to face with a new peril. Every advance was accompanied by fresh danger at the hands of tribes still subsisting by war and the chase. The spectacle of their wealth was irresistibly attractive, and the prospects of a successful foray, as measured in the expectation of loot, became more and more desirable. Nations, on the other hand, depending upon agriculture and those arts of peace, whose creation accompanies the growth of industry applied to production of the material bases of life, lost their ancient aptitudes for the practices of war and the hunting field, if only because they ceased to use them.
In these unequal conditions civilisation must have perished in the bud had not the same process which determined the substitution of agriculture for the chase manifested itself anew. Instead of murdering and robbing, one nation imposed itself upon, and exploited, another. A raid is a temporary expedient, and the renewed harvests of violence yield a continually diminishing crop. Lands of plenty returned to the desert from which they had been wrested, for the toiler lay dead in his furrow. But no sooner did the more astute spoiler of his neighbour comprehend the position than he devised effective means for perpetuating his supply, and even for increasing its yield. Those who had previously ravaged now conquered the land to possess it; where they had destroyed they enslaved, and the victim bought his survival by a surrender of the entire, or a part of, the nett profit of his labours.
The conqueror now became interested in protecting his sources of supply, and began to devise systems for the better exploitation of territories and of the populations which were enslaved. These systems are the first POLITICAL STATES, and their guarantee against further violation from outside was their subjection to those who had first seen the value of the new system. Thus was constituted a further pregnant advance, one whose natural process eventually guaranteed civilisation against the risks of destruction and a return to barbarism.