Economic Sophisms/109

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<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"nature. It is indeed a product upon which no human labour has ever been bestowed.

M. DE SAINT-CRICQ: Yes; nature has undoubtedly created the coal, but labour has imparted value to it. For the millions of years during which it was buried 100 fathoms under ground, unknown to everybody, it was destitute of value. It was necessary to search for it—that is labour; it was necessary to send it to market—that is additional labour. Then the price you pay for it in the market is nothing else than the remuneration of the labour of mining and transport.[1]

Thus far we see that M. de Saint-Cricq has the best of the argument; that the value of raw materials, like that of manufactured commodities, represents the cost of production, that is to say, the labour worked up in them; that it is not possible to conceive of a product possessing value, which has had no human labour bestowed on it; that the distinction made by the petitioners is futile in theory; that, as the basis of an unequal distribution of favours, it would be iniquitous in practice, since the result would be that one-third of our countrymen, who happened to be engaged in manufactures, would obtain the advantages of monopoly, on the alleged ground that they produce by labour, whilst the other two-thirds—namely, the agricultural population—would be abandoned to competition under the pretext that they produce without labour.

The rejoinder to this, I am quite sure, will be, that a nation derives more advantages from importing what are called raw materials, whether produced by labour or not, and exporting manufactured commodities. This will be repeated and insisted on, and it is an opinion very widely accredited.


  1. I do not particularize the parts of the remuneration falling to the lessee, the capitalist, etc., for several reasons:—1st, Because, on looking at the thing more closely, you will see that the remuneration always resolves itself into the reimbursement of advances or the payment of anterior labour. 2dly, Because, under the term labour, I include not only the wages of the workmen, but the legitimate recompense of everything which co-operates in the work of production. 3dly (and above all), Because the production of manufactured products is, like that of raw materials, burdened with auxiliary remunerations other than the mere expense of manual labour; and, moreover, this objection, frivolous in itself, would apply as much to the most delicate processes of manufacture, as to the rudest operations of agriculture.