Economic Sophisms/143

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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"We maintain that this force exists in society, and that God has placed it there. If it did not exist, we should be reduced, like Utopian dreamers, to seek for it in artificial arrangements, in arrangements which imply a previous alteration in the physical and moral conditution of man; or rather, we should conclude that the search was useless and vain, for the simple reason that we cannot understand the action of a lever without its fulcrum.

Let us try, then, to describe the beneficent force which tends gradually to surmount the mischievous and injurious force to which we have given the name of spoliation, and the presence of which is only too well explained by reasoning, and established by experience.

Every injurious or hurtful act has necessarily two terms: the point whence it comes, and the point to which it tends—the terminus a quo, and the terminus ad quem—the man who acts, and the man acted upon; or, in the language of the schoolmen, the agent and the patient.

We may be protected, then, from an injurious act in two ways: by the voluntary abstention of the agent; or by the resistance of the patient.

These two moral principles, far from running counter to each other, concur in their action, namely, the religious or philosophical moral principle, and the moral principle which I shall venture to term economic.

The religious moral principle, in order to ensure the suppression of an injurious act, addresses its author, addresses man in his capacity of agent, and says to him: "Amend your life; purify your conduct; cease to do evil; learn to do well; subdue your passions; sacrifice self-interest; oppress not your neighbour, whom it is your duty to love and assist; first of all be just, and be charitable afterwards." This species of moral principle will always be esteemed the most beautiful and touching, that which best displays the human race in its native majesty, which will be most extolled by the eloquent, and call forth the greatest amount of admiration and sympathy.

The economic moral principle aspires at attaining the same result; but addresses man more especially in the capacity of patient. It points out to him the effects of human actions, andTemplate:Smallrefs