Economic Sophisms/116

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ALL the sophisms which I have hitherto exposed have reference to a single question — ^the system of restriction. There are other tempting subjects, such as vested interests, inopportuneness, draining away our money, etc., etc., with which I shall not at present trouble the reader.

Nor does Social Economy confine herself to this limited circle. Fourierisme, Saint-Simonisme, communism, mysticism, sentimentalism, false philanthropy, affected aspirations after a chimerical equality and fraternity; questions relating to luxury, to wages, to machinery, to the pretended tyranny of capital, to colonies, to markets and vents for produce, to conquests, to population, to association, emigration, taxes, and loans,—have encumbered the field of science with a multiplicity of parasitical arguments, of sophisms which afford work to the hoe and the grubber of the diligent economist.

I am quite aware of the inconvenience attending this plan, or rather of this absence of plan. To attack one by one so many incoherent sophisms, which sometimes run foul of each other, and more frequently run into each other, is to enter into an irregular and capricious struggle, and involve ourselves in perpetual repetitions.

How much I should prefer to explain simply the situation in which things are, without occupying myself with the thousand aspects under which ignorance sees them! … To explain the laws under which societies prosper or decay, is to demolish virtually all these sophisms at once. When Laplace described all that was then known of the movements of the heavenly bodies, he dissipated, without even naming them, all the