Economic Sophisms/88

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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"industry, is to encroach upon their liberty—it is to prohibit an act; namely, the act of exchange, which has in it nothing contrary to good morals; in a word, it is to do them an act of injustice.

And yet this is necessary, we are told, unless we wish to see national labour at a standstill, and public prosperity sustain a fatal shock.

Writers of the protectionist school, then, have arrived at the melancholy conclusion that there is a radical incompatibility between Justice and Utility.


On the other hand, if it be the interest of each nation to sell, and not to buy, the natural state of their relations must consist in a violent action and reaction, for each will seek to impose its products on all, and all will endeavour to repel the products of each.

A sale, in fact, implies a purchase, and since, according to this doctrine, to sell is beneficial, and to buy is the reverse, every international transaction would imply the amelioration of one people, and the deterioration of another. But if men are, on the one hand, irresistibly impelled towards what is for their profit, and if, on the other, they resist instinctively what is hurtful, we are forced to conclude that each nation carries in its bosom a natural force of expansion, and a not less natural force of resistance, which forces are equally injurious to all other nations; or, in other words, that antagonism and war are the natural state of human society.

Thus the theory we are discussing may be summed up in these two axioms :

Utility is incompatible with Justice at home.

Utility is incompatible with Peace abroad.

Now, what astonishes and confounds me is, that a publicist, a statesman, who sincerely holds an economical doctrine which runs so violently counter to other principles which are incontestable, should be able to enjoy one moment of calm or peace of mind.

For my own part, it seems to me, that if I had entered the precincts of the science by the same gate, if I had failed to perceive clearly that Liberty, Utility, Justice, Peace, are thingsTemplate:Smallrefs