Economic Sophisms/Chapter 16

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Economic Sophisms by Frédéric Bastiat
Chapter 16
Obstructed Navigation pleading for the Prohibitionists

what he sends into the market of the world is purchased by a fellow-countryman or by a foreigner; whether the drafts or orders he receives come from a Frenchman or an Englishman; whether the commodities for which he afterwards exchanges these drafts or orders are produced on this or on the other side of the Ehine or the Pyrenees. There is always in each individual case an exact balance between what is contributed and what is received, between what is poured into and what is drawn out of the great common reservoir; and if this is true of each individual, it is true of the nation at large.

The only difference between the two cases is, that in the last each has to face a more extended market both as regards sales and purchases, and has consequently more chances of transacting both advantageously.

This objection may perhaps be urged: If everybody enters into a league not to take from the general mass the commodities of a certain individual, that individual cannot, in his turn, obtain from the mass what he is in want of. It is the same of nations.

The reply to this is, that if a nation cannot obtain what it has need of in the general market, it will no longer contribute anything to that market. It will work for itself. It will be forced in that case to submit to what you want to impose on it beforehand—isolation.

And this will realize the ideal of the prohibitive régime.

Is it not amusing to think that you inflict upon the nation, now and beforehand, this very régime, from a fear that it might otherwise run the risk of arriving at it independently of your exertions?






SOME years ago I happened to be at Madrid, and went to the Cortes. The subject of debate was a proposed treaty with Portugal for improving the navigation of the Douro. One of the