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 States in Process of Civilisation
Part I, Chapter III
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.