Economic Sophisms/140

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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"In saying so, they would only speak undoubted truth. But are we to conclude from this that Athens and Rome were inhabited only by bad and dishonest people, and hold in contempt Socrates and Plato, Cato and Cincinnatus ?

Who could entertain for a moment any such thought? But these great men lived in a social medium which took away all consciousness of injustice. We know that Aristotle could not even realize the idea of any society existing without slavery. Slavery in modern times has existed down to our own day without exciting many scruples in the minds of planters. Armies serve as the instruments of great conquests, that is to say, of great spoliations. But that is not to say that they do not contain multitudes of soldiers and officers personally of as delicate feelings as are usually to be found in industrial careers, if not indeed more so ; men who would blush at the very thought of anything dishonest, and would face a thousand deaths rather than stoop to any meanness.

We must not blame individuals, but rather the general movement which carries them along, and blinds them to the real state of the case; a movement for which society at large is responsible.

The same thing holds of monopoly. I blame the system, and not individuals—society at large, and not individual members of society. If the greatest philosophers have been unable to discover the iniquity of slavery, how much more easily may agriculturists and manufacturers have been led to take a wrong view of the nature and effects of a system of restriction !

 

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II.

 

TWO PRINCIPLES OF MORALITY.

HAVING reached, if he has reached, the end of the last chapter, I fancy I hear the reader exclaim:

"Well, are we wrong in reproaching economists with being dry and cold ? What a picture of human nature! What! IsTemplate:Smallrefs