Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Philosophy of Misery by Joseph-Pierre Proudhon

Part 5 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

me nothing about the second, because you have no standard of
comparison and are forbidden to verify by experiment the items of
cost of administration, which it is consequently impossible to
accept. Therefore the tobacco business, made into a monopoly,
necessarily costs society more than it brings in; it is an
industry which, instead of subsisting by its own product, lives
by subsidies, and which consequently, far from furnishing us a
model, is one of the first abuses which reform should strike

And when I speak of the reform to be introduced in the production
of tobacco, I do not refer simply to the enormous tax which
triples or quadruples the value of this product; neither do I
refer to the hierarchical organization of its employees, some of
whom by their salaries are made aristocrats as expensive as they
are useless, while others, hopeless receivers of petty wages, are
kept forever in the situation of subalterns. I do not even speak
of the privilege of the tobacco shops and the whole world of
parasites which they support: I have particularly in view the
useful labor, the labor of the workmen. From the very fact that
the administration's workman has no competitors and is interested
neither in profit nor loss, from the fact that he is not free, in
a word, his product is necessarily less, and his service too
expensive. This being so, let them say that the government
treats its employees well and looks out for their comfort: what
wonder? Why do not people see that liberty bears the burdens of
privilege, and that, if, by some impossibility, all industries
were to be treated like the tobacco industry, the source of
subsidies failing, the nation could no longer balance its
receipts and its expenses, and the State would become a bankrupt?

Foreign products: I cite the testimony of an educated man, though
not a political economist,--M. Liebig.

Formerly France imported from Spain every year soda to the value
of twenty or thirty millions of francs; for Spanish soda was the
best. All through the war with England the price of soda, and
consequently that of soap and glass, constantly rose. French
manufacturers therefore had to suffer considerably from this
state of things. Then it was that Leblanc discovered the method
of extracting soda from common salt. This process was a source
of wealth to France; the manufacture of soda acquired
extraordinary proportions; but neither Leblanc nor Napoleon
enjoyed the profit of the invention. The Restoration, which took
advantage of the wrath of the people against the author of the
continental blockade, refused to pay the debt of the emperor,
whose promises had led to Leblanc's discoveries. . . .

A few years ago, the king of Naples having undertaken to convert
the Sicilian sulphur trade into a monopoly, England, which
consumes an immense quantity of this sulphur, warned the king of
Naples that, if the monopoly were maintained, it would be
considered a casus belli. While the two governments were
exchanging diplomatic notes, fifteen patents were taken out in
England for the extraction of sulphuric acid from the limestones,
iron pyrites, and other mineral substances in which England
abounds. But the affair being arranged with the king of Naples,
nothing came of these exploitations: it was simply established,
by the attempts which were made, that the extraction of sulphuric
acid by the new processes could have been carried on
successfully, which perhaps would have annihilated Sicily's
sulphur trade.

Had it not been for the war with England, had not the king of
Naples had a fancy for monopoly, it would have been a long time
before any one in France would have thought of extracting soda
from sea salt, or any one in England of getting sulphuric acid
from the mountains of lime and pyrites which she contains. Now,
that is precisely the effect of competition upon industry. Man
rouses from his idleness only when want fills him with anxiety;
and the surest way to extinguish his genius is to deliver him
from all solicitude and take away from him the hope of profit and
of the social distinction which results from it, by creating
around him PEACE EVERYWHERE, PEACE ALWAYS, and transferring to
the State the responsibility of his inertia.

Yes, it must be admitted, in spite of modern quietism,--man's
life is a permanent war, war with want, war with nature, war with
his fellows, and consequently war with himself. The theory of a
peaceful equality, founded on fraternity and sacrifice, is only a
counterfeit of the Catholic doctrine of renunciation of the
goods and pleasures of this world, the principle of beggary, the
panegyric of misery. Man may love his fellow well enough to die
for him; he does not love him well enough to work for him.

To the theory of sacrifice, which we have just refuted in fact
and in right, the adversaries of competition add another, which
is just the opposite of the first: for it is a law of the mind
that, when it does not know the truth, which is its point of
equilibrium, it oscillates between two contradictions. This new
theory of anti-competitive socialism is that of encouragements.

What more social, more progressive in appearance, than
encouragement of labor and of industry? There is no democrat who
does not consider it one of the finest attributes of power, no
utopian theorist who does not place it in the front rank as a
means of organizing happiness. Now, government is by nature so
incapable of directing labor that every reward bestowed by it is
a veritable larceny from the common treasury. M. Reybaud shall
furnish us the text of this induction.

"The premiums granted to encourage exportation," observes M.
Reybaud somewhere, "are equivalent to the taxes paid for the
importation of raw material; the advantage remains absolutely
null, and serves to encourage nothing but a vast system of

This result is inevitable. Abolish customs duties, and national
industry suffers, as we have already seen in the case of sesame;
maintain the duties without granting premiums for exportation,
and national commerce will be beaten in foreign markets. To
obviate this difficulty do you resort to premiums? You but
restore with one hand what you have received with the other, and
you provoke fraud, the last result, the caput mortuum, of all
encouragements of industry. Hence it follows that every
encouragement to labor, every reward bestowed upon industry,
beyond the natural price of its product, is a gratuitous gift, a
bribe taken out of the consumer and offered in his name to a
favorite of power, in exchange for zero, for nothing. To
encourage industry, then, is synonymous at bottom with
encouraging idleness: it is one of the forms of swindling.

In the interest of our navy the government had thought it best to
grant to outfitters of transport-ships a premium for every man
employed on their vessels. Now, I continue to quote M. Reybaud:

On every vessel that starts for Newfoundland from sixty to
seventy men embark. Of this number twelve are sailors: the
balance consists of villagers snatched from their work in the
fields, who, engaged as day laborers for the preparation of fish,
remain strangers to the rigging, and have nothing that is marine
about them except their feet and stomach. Nevertheless, these
men figure on the rolls of the naval inscription, and there
perpetuate a deception. When there is occasion to defend the
institution of premiums, these are cited in its favor; they swell
the numbers and contribute to success.

Base jugglery! doubtless some innocent reformer will exclaim. Be
it so: but let us analyze the fact, and try to disengage the
general idea to be found therein.

In principle the only encouragement to labor that science can
admit is profit. For, if labor cannot find its reward in its own
product, very far from encouraging it, it should be abandoned as
soon as possible, and, if this same labor results in a net
product, it is absurd to add to this net product a gratuitous
gift, and thus overrate the value of the service. Applying this
principle, I say then: If the merchant service calls only for
ten thousand sailors, it should not be asked to support fifteen
thousand; the shortest course for the government is to put five
thousand conscripts on State vessels, and send them on their
expeditions, like princes. Every encouragement offered to the
merchant marine is a direct invitation to fraud,--what do I
say?--a proposal to pay wages for an impossible service. Do the
handling and discipline of vessels and all the conditions of
maritime commerce accommodate themselves to these adjuncts of a
useless personnel? What, then, can the ship-owner do in face of
a government which offers him a bonus to embark on his vessel
people of whom he has no need? If the ministry throws the money
of the treasury into the street, am I guilty if I pick it up?

Thus--and it is a point worthy of notice--the theory of
encouragements emanates directly from the theory of sacrifice;
and, in order to avoid holding man responsible, the opponents of
competition, by the fatal contradiction of their ideas, are
obliged to make him now a god, now a brute. And then they are
astonished that society is not moved by their appeal! Poor
children! men will never be better or worse than you see them now
and than they always have been. As soon as their individual
welfare solicits them, they desert the general welfare: in which
I find them, if not honorable, at least worthy of excuse. It is
your fault if you now demand of them more than they owe you and
now stimulate their greed with rewards which they do not deserve.
Man has nothing more precious than himself, and consequently no
other law than his responsibility. The theory of self-sacrifice,
like that of rewards, is a theory of rogues, subversive of
society and morality; and by the very fact that you look either
to sacrifice or to privilege for the maintenance of order, you
create a new antagonism in society. Instead of causing the birth
of harmony from the free activity of persons, you render the
individual and the State strangers to each other; in commanding
union, you breathe discord.

To sum up, outside of competition there remains but this
alternative,-- encouragement, which is a mystification, or
sacrifice, which is hypocrisy.

Therefore competition, analyzed in its principle, is an
inspiration of justice; and yet we shall see that competition, in
its results, is unjust.

% 2.--Subversive effects of competition, and the destruction of
liberty thereby.

The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, says the Gospel, and
the violent take it by force. These words are the allegory of
society. In society regulated by labor, dignity, wealth, and
glory are objects of competition; they are the reward of the
strong, and competition may be defined as the regime of force.
The old economists did not at first perceive this contradiction:
the moderns have been forced to recognize it.

"To elevate a State from the lowest degree of barbarism to the
highest degree of opulence," wrote A. Smith, "but three things
are necessary,-- peace, moderate taxes, and a tolerable
administration of justice. All the rest is brought about by the

On which the last translator of Smith, M. Blanqui, lets fall this
gloomy comment:

We have seen the natural course of things produce disastrous
effects, and create anarchy in production, war for markets, and
piracy in competition. The division of labor and the perfecting
of machinery, which should realize for the great working family
of the human race the conquest of a certain amount of leisure to
the advantage of its dignity, have produced at many points
nothing but degradation and misery. . . . . When A. Smith wrote,
liberty had not yet come with its embarrassments and its abuses,
and the Glasgow professor foresaw only its blessings. . . Smith
would have written like M. de Sismondi, if he had been a witness
of the sad condition of Ireland and the manufacturing districts
of England in the times in which we live.

Now then, litterateurs, statesmen, daily publicists, believers
and half-believers, all you who have taken upon yourselves the
mission of indoctrinating men, do you hear these words which one
would take for a translation from Jeremiah? Will you tell us at
last to what end you pretend to be conducting civilization? What
advice do you offer to society, to the country, in alarm?

But to whom do I speak? Ministers, journalists, sextons, and
pedants! Do such people trouble themselves about the problems of
social economy? Have they ever heard of competition?

A citizen of Lyons, a soul hardened to mercantile war, travelled
in Tuscany. He observes that from five to six hundred thousand
straw hats are made annually in that country, the aggregate value
of which amounts to four or five millions of francs. This
industry is almost the sole support of the people of the little
State. "How is it," he says to himself, "that so easily
conducted a branch of agriculture and manufactures has not been
transported into Provence and Languedoc, where the climate is the
same as in Tuscany?" But, thereupon observes an economist, if
the industry of the peasants of Tuscany is taken from them, how
will they contrive to live?

The manufacture of black silks had become for Florence a
specialty the secret of which she guarded preciously.

A shrewd Lyons manufacturer, the tourist notices with
satisfaction, has come to set up an establishment in Florence,
and has finally got possession of the peculiar processes of
dyeing and weaving. Probably this DISCOVERY will diminish
Florentine exportation.--A Journey in Italy, by M. Fulchiron.

Formerly the breeding of the silk-worm was abandoned to the
peasants of Tuscany; whom it aided to live.

Agricultural societies have been formed; they have represented
that the silk-worm, in the peasant's sleeping-room, did not get
sufficient ventilation or sufficient steadiness of temperature,
or as good care as it would have if the laborers who breed them
made it their sole business. Consequently rich, intelligent, and
generous citizens have built, amid the applause of the public,
what are called bigattieres (from bigatti, silk-worm).--M. de

And then, you ask, will these breeders of silk-worms, these
manufacturers of silks and hats, lose their work? Precisely: it
will even be proved to them that it is for their interest that
they should, since they will be able to buy the same products for
less than it costs them to manufacture them. Such is

Competition, with its homicidal instinct, takes away the bread of
a whole class of laborers, and sees in it only an improvement, a
saving; it steals a secret in a cowardly manner, and glories in
it as a DISCOVERY; it changes the natural zones of production to
the detriment of an entire people, and pretends to have done
nothing but utilize the advantages of its climate. Competition
overturns all notions of equity and justice; it increases the
real cost of production by needlessly multiplying the capital
invested, causes by turns the dearness of products and their
depreciation, corrupts the public conscience by putting chance in
the place of right, and maintains terror and distrust everywhere.

But what! Without this atrocious characteristic, competition
would lose its happiest effects; without the arbitrary element in
exchange and the panics of the market, labor would not
continually build factory against factory, and, not being
maintained in such good working order, production would realize
none of its marvels. After having caused evil to arise from the
very utility of its principle, competition again finds a way to
extract good from evil; destruction engenders utility,
equilibrium is realized by agitation, and it may be said of
competition, as Samson said of the lion which he had slain: De
comedente cibus exiit, et de forti dulcedo. Is there anything,
in all the spheres of human knowledge, more surprising than
political economy?

Let us take care, nevertheless, not to yield to an impulse of
irony, which would be on our part only unjust invective. It is
characteristic of economic science to find its certainty in its
contradictions, and the whole error of the economists consists in
not having understood this. Nothing poorer than their criticism,
nothing more saddening than their mental confusion, as soon as
they touch this question of competition: one would say that they
were witnesses forced by torture to confess what their conscience
would like to conceal. The reader will take it kindly if I put
before his eyes the arguments for laissez-passer, introducing
him, so to speak, into the presence of a secret meeting of

M. Dunoyer opens the discussion.

Of all the economists M. Dunoyer has most energetically embraced
the positive side of competition, and consequently, as might have
been expected, most ineffectually grasped the negative side. M.
Dunoyer, with whom nothing can be done when what he calls
principles are under discussion, is very far from believing that
in matters of political economy yes and no may be true at the
same moment and to the same extent; let it be said even to his
credit, such a conception is the more repugnant to him because of
the frankness and honesty with which he holds his doctrines.
What would I not give to gain an entrance into this pure but so
obstinate soul for this truth as certain to me as the existence
of the sun,--that all the categories of political economy are
contradictions! Instead of uselessly exhausting himself in
reconciling practice and theory; instead of contenting
himself with the ridiculous excuse that everything here below has
its advantages and its inconveniences,--M. Dunoyer would seek the
synthetic idea which solves all the antinomies, and, instead of
the paradoxical conservative which he now is, he would become
with us an inexorable and logical revolutionist.

"If competition is a false principle," says M. Dunoyer, "it
follows that for two thousand years humanity has been pursuing
the wrong road."

No, what you say does not follow, and your prejudicial remark is
refuted by the very theory of progress. Humanity posits its
principles by turns, and sometimes at long intervals: never does
it give them up in substance, although it destroys successively
their expressions and formulas. This destruction is called
NEGATION; because the general reason, ever progressive,
continually denies the completeness and sufficiency of its prior
ideas. Thus it is that, competition being one of the periods in
the constitution of value, one of the elements of the social
synthesis, it is true to say at the same time that it is
indestructible in its principle, and that nevertheless in its
present form it should be abolished, denied. If, then, there is
any one here who is in opposition to history, it is you.

I have several remarks to make upon the accusations of which
competition has been the object. The first is that this regime,
good or bad, ruinous or fruitful, does not really exist as yet;
that it is established nowhere except in a partial and most
incomplete manner.

This first observation has no sense. COMPETITION KILLS
COMPETITION, as we said at the outset; this aphorism may be taken
for a definition. How, then, could competition ever be complete?

Moreover, though it should be admitted that competition does not
yet exist in its integrity, that would simply prove that
competition does not act with all the power of elimination that
there is in it; but that will not change at all its contradictory
nature. What need have we to wait thirty centuries longer to
find out that, the more competition develops, the more it tends
to reduce the number of competitors?

The second is that the picture drawn of it is unfaithful; and
that sufficient heed is not paid to the extension which the
general welfare has undergone, including even that of the
laboring classes.

If some socialists fail to recognize the useful side of
competition, you on your side make no mention of its pernicious
effects. The testimony of your opponents coming to complete your
own, competition is shown in the fullest light, and from a double
falsehood we get the truth as a result. As for the gravity of
the evil, we shall see directly what to think about that.

The third is that the evil experienced by the laboring classes is
not referred to its real causes.

If there are other causes of poverty than competition, does that
prevent it from contributing its share? Though only one
manufacturer a year were ruined by competition, if it were
admitted that this ruin is the necessary effect of the principle,
competition, as a principle, would have to be rejected.

The fourth is that the principal means proposed for obviating it
would be inexpedient in the extreme.

Possibly: but from this I conclude that the inadequacy of the
remedies proposed imposes a new duty upon you,--precisely that of
seeking the most expedient means of preventing the evil of

The fifth, finally, is that the real remedies, in so far as it is
possible to remedy the evil by legislation, would be found
precisely in the regime which is accused of having produced
it,--that is, in a more and more real regime of liberty and

Well! I am willing. The remedy for competition, in your
opinion, is to make competition universal. But, in order that
competition may be universal, it is necessary to procure for all
the means of competing; it is necessary to destroy or modify the
predominance of capital over labor, to change the relations
between employer and workman, to solve, in a word, the antinomy
of division and that of machinery; it is necessary to ORGANIZE
LABOR: can you give this solution?

M. Dunoyer then develops, with a courage worthy of a better
cause, his own utopia of universal competition: it is a labyrinth
in which the author stumbles and contradicts himself at every

"Competition," says M. Dunoyer, "meets a multitude of obstacles."

In fact, it meets so many and such powerful ones that it becomes
impossible itself. For how is triumph possible over obstacles
inherent in the constitution of society and consequently
inseparable from competition itself?

In addition to the public services, there is a certain number of
professions the practice of which the government has seen fit to
more or less exclusively reserve; there is a larger number of
which legislation has given a monopoly to a restricted number of
individuals. Those which are abandoned to competition are
subjected to formalities and restrictions, to numberless
barriers, which keep many from approaching, and in these
consequently competition is far from being unlimited. In short,
there are few which are not submitted to varied taxes, necessary
doubtless, etc.

What does all this mean? M. Dunoyer doubtless does not intend
that society shall dispense with government, administration,
police, taxes, universities, in a word, with everything that
constitutes a society. Then, inasmuch as society necessarily
implies exceptions to competition, the hypothesis of
universal competition is chimerical, and we are back again
under the regime of caprice,--a result foretold in the definition
of competition. Is there anything serious in this reasoning of
M. Dunoyer?

Formerly the masters of the science began by putting far away
from them every preconceived idea, and devoted themselves to
tracing facts back to general laws, without ever altering or
concealing them. The researches of Adam Smith, considering the
time of their appearance, are a marvel of sagacity and lofty
reasoning. The economic picture presented by Quesnay, wholly
unintelligible as it appears, gives evidence of a profound
sentiment of the general synthesis. The introduction to J. B.
Say's great treatise dwells exclusively upon the scientific
characteristics of political economy, and in every line is to be
seen how much the author felt the need of absolute ideas. The
economists of the last century certainly did not constitute the
science, but they sought this constitution ardently and honestly.

How far we are today from these noble thoughts! No longer do
they seek a science; they defend the interests of dynasty and
caste. The more powerless routine becomes, the more stubbornly
they adhere to it; they make use of the most venerated names to
stamp abnormal phenomena with a quality of authenticity which
they lack; they tax accusing facts with heresy; they calumniate
the tendencies of the century; and nothing irritates an economist
so much as to pretend to reason with him.

"The peculiar characteristic of the present time," cries M.
Dunoyer, in a tone of keen discontent, "is the agitation of all
classes; their anxiety, their inability to ever stop at anything
and be contented; the infernal labor performed upon the less
fortunate that they may become more and more discontented in
proportion to the increased efforts of society to make their lot
really less pitiful."

Indeed! Because the socialists goad political economy, they are
incarnate devils! Can there be anything more impious, in fact,
than to teach the proletaire that he is wronged in his labor and
his wages, and that, in the surroundings in which he lives, his
poverty is irremediable?

M. Reybaud repeats, with greater emphasis, the wail of his
master, M. Dunoyer: one would think them the two seraphim of
Isaiah chanting a Sanctus to competition. In June, 1844, at the
time when he published the fourth edition of his "Contemporary
Reformers," M. Reybaud wrote, in the bitterness of his soul:

To socialists we owe the organization of labor, the right to
labor; they are the promoters of the regime of surveillance. . .
. The legislative chambers on either side of the channel are
gradually succumbing to their influence. . . . Thus utopia is
gaining ground. . . .

And M. Reybaud more and more deplores the SECRET INFLUENCE OF
SOCIALISM on the best minds, and stigmatizes--see the
malice!--the UNPERCEIVED CONTAGION with which even those who
have broken lances against socialism allow themselves to be
inoculated. Then he announces, as a last act of his high justice
against the wicked, the approaching publication, under the title
of "Laws of Labor," of a work in which he will prove (unless some
new evolution takes place in his ideas) that the laws of labor
have nothing in common, either with the right to labor or with
the organization of labor, and that the best of reforms is

"Moreover," adds M. Reybaud, "the tendency of political economy
is no longer to theory, but to practice. The abstract portions
of the science seem henceforth fixed. The controversy over
definitions is exhausted, or nearly so. The works of the great
economists on value, capital, supply and demand, wages, taxes,
machinery, farm-rent, increase of population, over-accumulation
of products, markets, banks, monopolies, etc., seem to have set
the limit of dogmatic researches, and form a body of doctrine
beyond which there is little to hope."

the conclusion of Montesquieu upon this strange panegyric of the
founders of social economy. THE SCIENCE IS COMPLETE! M. Reybaud
makes oath to it; and what he proclaims with so much authority is
repeated at the Academy, in the professors' chairs, in the
councils of State, in the legislative halls; it is published in
the journals; the king is made to say it in his New Year's
addresses; and before the courts the cases of claimants are
decided accordingly.

THE SCIENCE IS COMPLETE! What fools we are, then, socialists, to
hunt for daylight at noonday, and to protest, with our lanterns
in our hands, against the brilliancy of these solar rays!

But, gentlemen, it is with sincere regret and profound distrust
of myself that I find myself forced to ask you for further light.

If you cannot cure our ills, give us at least kind words, give us
evidence, give us resignation.

"It is obvious," says M. Dunoyer, "that wealth is infinitely
better distributed in our day than it ever has been."

"The equilibrium of pains and pleasures," promptly continues M.
Reybaud, "ever tends to restore itself on earth."

What, then! What do you say? WEALTH BETTER DISTRIBUTED,
EQUILIBRIUM RESTORED! Explain yourselves, please, as to this
better distribution. Is equality coming, or inequality going?
Is solidarity becoming closer, or competition diminishing? I
will not quit you until you have answered me, non missura cutem.
. . . For, whatever the cause of the restoration of equilibrium
and of the better distribution which you point out, I embrace it
with ardor, and will follow it to its last consequences. Before
1830--I select the date at random--wealth was not so well
distributed: how so? Today, in your opinion, it is better
distributed: why? You see what I am coming at: distribution
being not yet perfectly equitable and the equilibrium not
absolutely perfect, I ask, on the one hand, what obstacle it is
that disturbs the equilibrium, and, on the other, by virtue of
what principle humanity continually passes from the greater to
the less evil and from the good to the better? For, in fact,
this secret principle of amelioration can be neither competition,
nor machinery, nor division of labor, nor supply and demand: all
these principles are but levers which by turns cause value to
oscillate, as the Academy of Moral Sciences has very clearly
seen. What, then, is the sovereign law of well-being? What is
this rule, this measure, this criterion of progress, the
violation of which is the perpetual cause of poverty? Speak, and
quit your haranguing.

Wealth is better distributed, you say. Show us your proofs. M.

According to official documents, taxes are assessed on scarcely
less than eleven million separate parcels of landed property.
The number of proprietors by whom these taxes are paid is
estimated at six millions; so that, assuming four individuals to
a family, there must be no less than twenty-four million
inhabitants out of thirty-four who participate in the ownership
of the soil.

Then, according to the most favorable figures, there must be ten
million proletaires in France, or nearly one-third of the
population. Now, what have you to say to that? Add to these ten
millions half of the twenty- four others, whose property,
burdened with mortgages, parcelled out, impoverished, wretched,
gives them no support, and still you will not have the number of
individuals whose living is precarious.

The number of twenty-four million proprietors perceptibly tends
to increase.

I maintain that it perceptibly tends to decrease. Who is the
real proprietor, in your opinion,--the nominal holder, assessed,
taxed, pawned, mortgaged, or the creditor who collects the rent?
Jewish and Swiss money-lenders are today the real proprietors of
Alsace; and proof of their excellent judgment is to be found in
the fact that they have no thought of acquiring landed estates:
they prefer to invest their capital.

To the landed proprietors must be added about fifteen hundred
thousand holders of patents and licenses, or, assuming four
persons to a family, six million individuals interested as
leaders in industrial enterprises.

But, in the first place, a great number of these licensed
individuals are landed proprietors, and you count them twice.
Further, it may be safely said that, of the whole number of
licensed manufacturers and merchants, a fourth at most realize
profits, another fourth hold their own, and the rest are
constantly running behind in their business. Take, then, half at
most of the six million so-called leaders in enterprises, which
we will add to the very problematical twelve million landed
proprietors, and we shall attain a total of fifteen million
Frenchmen in a position, by their education, their industry,
their capital, their credit, their property, to engage in
competition. For the rest of the nation, or nineteen million
souls, competition, like Henri IV.'s pullet in the pot, is a dish
which they produce for the class which can pay for it, but which
they never touch.

Another difficulty. These nineteen million men, within whose
reach competition never comes, are hirelings of the competitors.
In the same way formerly the serfs fought for the lords, but
without being able themselves to carry a banner or put an army on
foot. Now, if competition cannot by itself become the common
condition, why should not those for whom it offers nothing but
perils, exact guarantees from the barons whom they serve? And if
these guarantees can not be denied them, how could they be other
than barriers to competition, just as the truce of God, invented
by the bishops, was a barrier to feudal wars? By the
constitution of society, I said a little while ago, competition
is an exceptional matter, a privilege; now I ask how it is
possible for this privilege to coexist with equality of rights?

And think you, when I demand for consumers and wage-receivers
guarantees against competition, that it is a socialist's dream?
Listen to two of your most illustrious confreres, whom you will
not accuse of performing an infernal work.

M. Rossi (Volume I., Lecture 16) recognizes in the State the
right to regulate labor, WHEN THE DANGER IS TOO GREAT AND THE
GUARANTEES INSUFFICIENT, which means always. For the legislator
must secure public order by PRINCIPLES and LAWS: he does not
wait for unforeseen facts to arise in order that he may drive
them back with an arbitrary hand. Elsewhere (Volume II., pp.
73-77) the same professor points out, as consequences of
exaggerated competition, the incessant formation of a financial
and landed aristocracy and the approaching downfall of small
holders, and he raises the cry of alarm. M. Blanqui, on his
side, declares that the organization of labor is recognized by
economic science as in the order of the day (he has since
retracted the statement), urges the participation of workers in
the profits and the advent of the collective laborer, and
thunders continually against the monopolies, prohibitions, and
tyranny of capital. Qui habet aures audiendi audiat! M. Rossi,
as a writer on criminal law, decrees against the robberies of
competition; M. Blanqui, as examining magistrate, proclaims the
guilty parties: it is the counterpart of the duet sung just now
by MM. Reybaud and Dunoyer. When the latter cry HOSANNA, the
former respond, like the Fathers in the Councils, ANATHEMA.

But, it will be said, MM. Blanqui and Rossi mean to strike only
the ABUSES of competition; they have taken care not to proscribe
the PRINCIPLE, and in that they are thoroughly in accord with
MM. Reybaud and Dunoyer.

I protest against this distinction, in the interest of the fame
of the two professors.

In fact, abuse has invaded everything, and the exception has
become the rule. When M. Troplong, defending, with all the
economists, the liberty of commerce, admitted that the coalition
of the cab companies was one of those facts against which the
legislator finds himself absolutely powerless, and which seem to
contradict the sanest notions of social economy, he still had the
consolation of saying to himself that such a fact was wholly
exceptional, and that there was reason to believe that it would
not become general. Now, this fact has become general: the most
conservative jurisconsult has only to put his head out of his
window to see that today absolutely everything has been
monopolized through competition,--transportation (by land, rail,
and water), wheat and flour, wine and brandy, wood, coal, oil,
iron, fabrics, salt, chemical products, etc. It is sad for
jurisprudence, that twin sister of political economy, to see its
grave anticipations contradicted in less than a lustre, but it is
sadder still for a great nation to be led by such poor geniuses
and to glean the few ideas which sustain its life from the
brushwood of their writings.

In theory we have demonstrated that competition, on its useful
side, should be universal and carried to its maximum of
intensity; but that, viewed on its negative side, it must be
everywhere stifled, even to the last vestige. Are the economists
in a position to effect this elimination? Have they foreseen the
consequences, calculated the difficulties? If the answer
should be affirmative, I should have the boldness to propose the
following case to them for solution.

A treaty of coalition, or rather of association,--for the courts
would be greatly embarrassed to define either term,--has just
united in one company all the coal mines in the basin of the
Loire. On complaint of the municipalities of Lyons and Saint
Etienne, the ministry has appointed a commission charged with
examining the character and tendencies of this frightful society.

Well, I ask, what can the intervention of power, with the
assistance of civil law and political economy, accomplish here?

They cry out against coalition. But can the proprietors of mines
be prevented from associating, from reducing their general
expenses and costs of exploitation, and from working their mines
to better advantage by a more perfect understanding with each
other? Shall they be ordered to begin their old war over again,
and ruin themselves by increased expenses, waste,
over-production, disorder, and decreased prices? All that is

Shall they be prevented from increasing their prices so as to
recover the interest on their capital? Then let them be
protected themselves against any demands for increased wages on
the part of the workmen; let the law concerning joint-stock
companies be reenacted; let the sale of shares be prohibited; and
when all these measures shall have been taken, as the
capitalist-proprietors of the basin cannot justly be forced to
lose capital invested under a different condition of things, let
them be indemnified.

Shall a tariff be imposed upon them? That would be a law of
maximum. The State would then have to put itself in the place of
the exploiters; keep the accounts of their capital, interest, and
office expenses; regulate the wages of the miners, the salaries
of the engineers and directors, the price of the wood employed in
the extraction of the coal, the expenditure for material; and,
finally, determine the normal and legitimate rate of profit. All
this cannot be done by ministerial decree: a law is necessary.
Will the legislator dare, for the sake of a special industry, to
change the public law of the French, and put power in the place
of property? Then of two things one: either commerce in coals
will fall into the hands of the State, or else the State must
find some means of reconciling liberty and order in carrying on
the mining industry, in which case the socialists will ask that
what has been executed at one point be imitated at all points.

The coalition of the Loire mines has posited the social question
in terms which permit no more evasion. Either competition,--that
is, monopoly and what follows; or exploitation by the
State,--that is, dearness of labor and continuous impoverishment;
or else, in short, a solution based upon equality,--in other
words, the organization of labor, which involves the negation of
political economy and the end of property.

But the economists do not proceed with this abrupt logic: they
love to bargain with necessity. M. Dupin (session of the Academy
of Moral and Political Sciences, June 10, 1843) expresses the
opinion that, "though competition may be useful within the
nation, it must be prevented between nations."

To PREVENT or to LET ALONE,--such is the eternal alternative of
the economists: beyond it their genius does not go. In vain is
it cried out at them that it is not a question of PREVENTING
anything or of PERMITTING everything; that what is asked of
them, what society expects of them, is a RECONCILIATION: this
double idea does not enter their head.

"It is necessary," M. Dunoyer replies to M. Dupin, "to
DISTINGUISH theory from practice."

My God! everybody knows that M. Dunoyer, inflexible as to
principles in his works, is very accommodating as to practice in
the Council of State. But let him condescend to once ask himself
this question: Why am I obliged to continually distinguish
practice from theory? Why do they not harmonize?

M. Blanqui, as a lover of peace and harmony, supports the learned
M. Dunoyer,--that is, theory. Nevertheless he thinks, with M.
Dupin,--that is, with practice,--that competition is not EXEMPT
FROM REPROACH. So afraid is M. Blanqui of calumniating and
stirring up the fire!

M. Dupin is obstinate in his opinion. He cites, as evils for
which competition is responsible, fraud, sale by false weights,
the exploitation of children. All doubtless in order to prove
that competition WITHIN THE NATION may be useful!

M. Passy, with his usual logic, observes that there will always
be dishonest people who, etc. Accuse human nature, he cries, but
not competition.

At the very outset M. Passy's logic wanders from the question.
Competition is reproached with the inconveniences which result
from its nature, not with the frauds of which it is the occasion
or pretext. A manufacturer finds a way of replacing a workman
who costs him three francs a day by a woman to whom he gives but
one franc. This expedient is the only one by which he can meet a
falling market and keep his establishment in motion. Soon to the
working women he will add children. Then, forced by the
necessities of war, he will gradually reduce wages and add to the
hours of labor. Where is the guilty party here? This argument
may be turned about in a hundred ways and applied to all
industries without furnishing any ground for accusing human

M. Passy himself is obliged to admit it when he adds: "As for
the compulsory labor of children, the fault is on the parents."
Exactly. And the fault of the parents on whom?

"In Ireland," continues this orator, "there is no competition,
and yet poverty is extreme."

On this point M. Passy's ordinary logic has been betrayed by an
extraordinary lack of memory. In Ireland there is a complete,
universal monopoly of the land, and unlimited, desperate
competition for farms. Competition-monopoly are the two balls
which unhappy Ireland drags, one after each foot.

When the economists are tired of accusing human nature, the greed
of parents, and the turbulence of radicals, they find delectation
in picturing the felicity of the proletariat. But there again
they cannot agree with each other or with themselves; and nothing
better depicts the anarchy of competition than the disorder of
their ideas.

Today the wife of the workingman dresses in elegant robes which
in a previous century great ladies would not have disdained.--M.
Chevalier: Lecture 4.

And this is the same M. Chevalier who, according to his own
calculation, estimates that the total national income would give
thirteen cents a day to each individual. Some economists even
reduce this figure to eleven cents. Now, as all that goes to
make up the large fortunes must come out of this sum, we may
accept the estimate of M. de Morogues that the daily income of
half the French people does not exceed five cents each.

"But," continues M. Chevalier, with mystical exaltation, "does
not happiness consist in the harmony of desires and enjoyments,
in thebalance of needs and satisfactions? Does it not consist in
a certain condition of soul, the conditions of which it is not
the function of political economy to prevent, and which it is not
its mission to engender? This is the work of religion and

Economist, Horace would say to M: Chevalier, if he were living at
the present day, attend simply to my income, and leave me to take
care of my soul: Det vitam, det opes; {ae}quum mi animum ipse

M. Dunoyer again has the floor:

It would be easy, in many cities, on holidays, to confound the
working class with the bourgeois class [why are there two
classes?], so fine is the dress of the former. No less has been
the progress in nourishment. Food is at once more abundant, more
substantial, and more varied. Bread is better everywhere. Meat,
soup, white bread, have become, in many factory towns, infinitely
more common than they used to be. In short, the average duration
of life has been raised from thirty-five years to forty.

Farther on M. Dunoyer gives a picture of English fortunes
according to Marshall. It appears from this picture that in
England two million five hundred thousand families have an income
of only two hundred and forty dollars. Now, in England an income
of two hundred and forty dollars corresponds to an income of one
hundred and forty-six dollars in our country, which, divided
between four persons, gives each thirty-six dollars and a half,
or ten cents a day. That is not far from the thirteen cents
which M. Chevalier allows to each individual in France: the
difference in favor of the latter arises from the fact that, the
progress of wealth being less advanced in France, poverty is
likewise less. What must one think of the economists' luxuriant
descriptions or of their figures?

"Pauperism has increased to such an extent in England," confesses
M. Blanqui, "that the English government has had to seek a refuge
in those frightful work-houses". . . .

As a matter of fact, those pretended work-houses, where the work
consists in ridiculous and fruitless occupations, are, whatever
may be said, simply torture-houses. For to a reasonable being
there is no torture like that of turning a mill without grain and
without flour, with the sole purpose of avoiding rest, without
thereby escaping idleness.

"This organization [the organization of competition]," continues
M. Blanqui, "tends to make all the profits of labor pass into the
hands of capital. . . . It is at Reims, at Mulhouse, at
Saint-Quentin, as at Manchester, at Leeds, at Spitalfields, that
the existence of the workers is most precarious". . . .

Then follows a frightful picture of the misery of the workers.
Men, women, children, young girls, pass before you, starved,
blanched, ragged, wan, and wild. The description ends with this

The workers in the mechanical industries can no longer supply
recruits for the army.

It would seem that these do not derive much benefit from M.
Dunoyer's white bread and soup.

M. Villerme regards the licentiousness of young working girls as
INEVITABLE. Concubinage is their customary status; they are
entirely subsidized by employers, clerks, and students. Although
as a general thing marriage is more attractive to the people than
to the bourgeoisie, there are many proletaires, Malthusians
without knowing it, who fear the family and go with the current.
Thus, as workingmen are flesh for cannon, workingwomen are flesh
for prostitution: that explains the elegant dressing on Sunday.
After all, why should these young women be expected to be more
virtuous than their mistresses?

M. Buret, crowned by the Academy:

I affirm that the working class is abandoned body and soul to the
good pleasure of industry.

The same writer says elsewhere:

The feeblest efforts of speculation may cause the price of bread
to vary a cent a pound and more: which represents $124,100 for
thirty-four million men.

I may remark, in passing, that the much-lamented Buret regarded
the idea of the existence of monopolists as a popular prejudice.
Well, sophist! monopolist or speculator, what matters the name,
if you admit the thing?

Such quotations would fill volumes. But the object of this
treatise is not to set forth the contradictions of the economists
and to wage fruitless war upon persons. Our object is loftier
and worthier: it is to unfold the System of Economical
Contradictions, which is quite a different matter. Therefore we
will end this sad review here; and, before concluding, we will
throw a glance at the various means proposed whereby to remedy
the inconveniences of competition.

% 3.--Remedies against competition.

Can competition in labor be abolished?

It would be as well worth while to ask if personality, liberty,
individual responsibility can be suppressed.

Competition, in fact, is the expression of collective activity;
just as wages, considered in its highest acceptation, is the
expression of the merit and demerit, in a word, the
responsibility, of the laborer. It is vain to declaim and revolt
against these two essential forms of liberty and discipline in
labor. Without a theory of wages there is no distribution, no
justice; without an organization of competition there is no
social guarantee, consequently no solidarity.

The socialists have confounded two essentially distinct things
when, contrasting the union of the domestic hearth with
industrial competition, they have asked themselves if society
could not be constituted precisely like a great family all of
whose members would be bound by ties of blood, and not as a sort
of coalition in which each is held back by the law of his own

The family is not, if I may venture to so speak, the type, the
organic molecule, of society. In the family, as M. de Bonald has
very well observed, there exists but one moral being, one mind,
one soul, I had almost said, with the Bible, one flesh. The
family is the type and the cradle of monarchy and the patriciate:
in it resides and is preserved the idea of authority and
sovereignty, which is being obliterated more and more in the
State. It was on the model of the family that all the ancient
and feudal societies were organized, and it is precisely against
this old patriarchal constitution that modern democracy protests
and revolts.

The constitutive unit of society is the workshop.

Now, the workshop necessarily implies an interest as a body and
private interests, a collective person and individuals. Hence a
system of relations unknown in the family, among which the
opposition of the collective will, represented by the EMPLOYER,
and individual wills, represented by the WAGE-RECEIVERS, figures
in the front rank. Then come the relations from shop to shop,
from capital to capital,--in other words, competition and
association. For competition and association are supported by
each other; they do not exist independently; very far from
excluding each other, they are not even divergent. Whoever says
competition already supposes a common object; competition, then,
is not egoism, and the most deplorable error of socialism
consists in having regarded it as the subversion of society.

Therefore there can be no question here of destroying
competition, as impossible as to destroy liberty; the
problem is to find its equilibrium, I would willingly say its
police. For every force, every form of spontaneity, whether
individual or collective, must receive its determination: in this
respect it is the same with competition as with intelligence and
liberty. How, then, will competition be harmoniously determined
in society?

We have heard the reply of M. Dunoyer, speaking for political
economy: Competition must be determined by itself. In other
words, according to M. Dunoyer and all the economists, the remedy
for the inconveniences of competition is more competition; and,
since political economy is the theory of property, of the
absolute right of use and abuse, it is clear that political
economy has no other answer to make. Now, this is as if it
should be pretended that the education of liberty is effected by
liberty, the instruction of the mind by the mind, the
determination of value by value, all of which propositions are
evidently tautological and absurd.

And, in fact, to confine ourselves to the subject under
discussion, it is obvious that competition, practised for itself
and with no other object than to maintain a vague and discordant
independence, can end in nothing, and that its oscillations are
eternal. In competition the struggling elements are capital,
machinery, processes, talent, and experience,--that is, capital
again; victory is assured to the heaviest battalions. If, then,
competition is practised only to the advantage of private
interests, and if its social effects have been neither determined
by science nor reserved by the State, there will be in
competition, as in democracy, a continual tendency from civil war
to oligarchy, from oligarchy to despotism, and then dissolution
and return to civil war, without end and without rest. That is
why competition, abandoned to itself, can never arrive at
its own constitution: like value, it needs a superior principle
to socialize and define it. These facts are henceforth well
enough established to warrant us in considering them above
criticism, and to excuse us from returning to them. Political
economy, so far as the police of competition is concerned, having
no means but competition itself, and unable to have any other, is
shown to be powerless.

It remains now to inquire what solution socialism contemplates.
A single example will give the measure of its means, and will
permit us to come to general conclusions regarding it.

Of all modern socialists M. Louis Blanc, perhaps, by his
remarkable talent, has been most successful in calling public
attention to his writings. In his "Organization of Labor," after
having traced back the problem of association to a single point,
competition, he unhesitatingly pronounces in favor of its
abolition. From this we may judge to what an extent this writer,
generally so cautious, is deceived as to the value of political
economy and the range of socialism. On the one hand, M. Blanc,
receiving his ideas ready made from I know not what source,
giving everything to his century and nothing to history, rejects
absolutely, in substance and in form, political economy, and
deprives himself of the very materials of organization; on the
other, he attributes to tendencies revived from all past epochs,
which he takes for new, a reality which they do not possess, and
misconceives the nature of socialism, which is exclusively
critical. M. Blanc, therefore, has given us the spectacle of a
vivid imagination ready to confront an impossibility; he has
believed in the divination of genius; but he must have perceived
that science does not improvise itself, and that, be one's name
Adolphe Boyer, Louis Blanc, or J. J. Rousseau, provided there is
nothing in experience, there is nothing in the mind.

M. Blanc begins with this declaration:

We cannot understand those who have imagined I know not what
mysterious coupling of two opposite principles. To graft
association upon competition is a poor idea: it is to substitute
hermaphrodites for eunuchs.

These three lines M. Blanc will always have reason to regret.
They prove that, when he published the fourth edition of his
book, he was as little advanced in logic as in political economy,
and that he reasoned about both as a blind man would reason about
colors. Hermaphrodism, in politics, consists precisely in
exclusion, because exclusion always restores, in some form or
other and in the same degree, the idea excluded; and M. Blanc
would be greatly surprised were he to be shown, by his continual
mixture in his book of the most contrary principles,-- authority
and right, property and communism, aristocracy and equality,
labor and capital, reward and sacrifice, liberty and
dictatorship, free inquiry and religious faith,--that the real
hermaphrodite, the double- sexed publicist, is himself. M.
Blanc, placed on the borders of democracy and socialism, one
degree lower than the Republic, two degrees beneath M. Barrot,
three beneath M. Thiers, is also, whatever he may say and
whatever he may do, a descendant through four generations from M.
Guizot, a doctrinaire.

"Certainly," cries M. Blanc, "we are not of those who
anathematize the principle of authority. This principle we have
a thousand times had occasion to defend against attacks as
dangerous as absurd. We know that, when organized force exists
nowhere in a society, despotism exists everywhere."

Thus, according to M. Blanc, the remedy for competition, or
rather, the means of abolishing it, consists in the intervention
of authority, in the substitution of the State for individual
liberty: it is the inverse of the system of the economists.

I should dislike to have M. Blanc, whose social tendencies are
well known, accuse me of making impolitic war upon him in
refuting him. I do justice to M. Blanc's generous intentions; I
love and I read his works, and I am especially thankful to him
for the service he has rendered in revealing, in his "History of
Ten Years," the hopeless poverty of his party. But no one can
consent to seem a dupe or an imbecile: now, putting personality
entirely aside, what can there be in common between socialism,
that universal protest, and the hotch-potch of old prejudices
which make up M. Blanc's republic? M. Blanc is never tired of
appealing to authority, and socialism loudly declares itself
anarchistic; M. Blanc places power above society, and socialism
tends to subordinate it to society; M. Blanc makes social life
descend from above, and socialism maintains that it springs up
and grows from below; M. Blanc runs after politics, and socialism
is in quest of science. No more hypocrisy, let me say to M.
Blanc: you desire neither Catholicism nor monarchy nor nobility,
but you must have a God, a religion, a dictatorship, a
censorship, a hierarchy, distinctions, and ranks. For my part, I
deny your God, your authority, your sovereignty, your judicial
State, and all your representative mystifications; I want neither
Robespierre's censer nor Marat's rod; and, rather than submit to
your androgynous democracy, I would support the status quo. For
sixteen years your party has resisted progress and blocked
opinion; for sixteen years it has shown its despotic origin by
following in the wake of power at the extremity of the left
centre: it is time for it to abdicate or undergo a metamorphosis.

Implacable theorists of authority, what then do you propose which
the government upon which you make war cannot accomplish in
a fashion more tolerable than yours?

M. Blanc's SYSTEM may be summarized in three points:

1. To give power a great force of initiative,--that is, in plain
English, to make absolutism omnipotent in order to realize a

2. To establish public workshops, and supply them with capital,
at the State's expense.

3. To extinguish private industry by the competition of national

And that is all.

Has M. Blanc touched the problem of value, which involves in
itself alone all others? He does not even suspect its existence.

Has he given a theory of distribution? No. Has he solved the
antinomy of the division of labor, perpetual cause of the
workingman's ignorance, immorality, and poverty? No. Has he
caused the contradiction of machinery and wages to disappear, and
reconciled the rights of association with those of liberty? On
the contrary, M. Blanc consecrates this contradiction. Under the
despotic protection of the State, he admits in principle the
inequality of ranks and wages, adding thereto, as compensation,
the ballot. Are not workingmen who vote their regulations and
elect their leaders free? It may very likely happen that these
voting workingmen will admit no command or difference of pay
among them: then, as nothing will have been provided for the
satisfaction of industrial capacities, while maintaining
political equality, dissolution will penetrate into the workshop,
and, in the absence of police intervention, each will return to
his own affairs. These fears seem to M. Blanc neither serious
nor well-founded: he awaits the test calmly, very sure that
society will not go out of his way to contradict him.

And such complex and intricate questions as those of taxation,
credit, international trade, property, heredity,--has M. Blanc
fathomed them? Has he solved the problem of population? No, no,
no, a thousand times no: when M. Blanc cannot solve a difficulty,
he eliminates it. Regarding population, he says:

As only poverty is prolific, and as the social workshop will
cause poverty to disappear, there is no reason for giving it any

In vain does M. de Sismondi, supported by universal experience,
cry out to him:

We have no confidence in those who exercise delegated powers. We
believe that any corporation will do its business worse than
those who are animated by individual interest; that on the part
of the directors there will be negligence, display, waste,
favoritism, fear of compromise, all the faults, in short, to be
noticed in the administration of the public wealth as contrasted
with private wealth. We believe, further, that in an assembly of
stockholders will be found only carelessness, caprice,
negligence, and that a mercantile enterprise would be constantly
compromised and soon ruined, if it were dependent upon a
deliberative commercial assembly.

M. Blanc hears nothing; he drowns all other sounds with his own
sonorous phrases; private interest he replaces by devotion to the
public welfare; for competition he substitutes emulation and
rewards. After having posited industrial hierarchy as a
principle, it being a necessary consequence of his faith in God,
authority, and genius, he abandons himself to mystic powers,
idols of his heart and his imagination.

Thus M. Blanc begins by a coup d' Etat, or rather, according to
his original expression, by an application of the FORCE OF
INITIATIVE which he gives to power; and he levies an
extraordinary tax upon the rich in order to supply the
proletariat with capital. M. Blanc's logic is very simple,--it
is that of the Republic: power can accomplish what the people
want, and what the people want is right. A singular fashion
of reforming society, this of repressing its most spontaneous
tendencies, denying its most authentic manifestations, and,
instead of generalizing comfort by the regular development of
traditions, displacing labor and income! But, in truth, what is
the good of these disguises? Why so much beating about the bush?
Was it not simpler to adopt the agrarian law straightway? Could
not power, by virtue of its force of initiative, at once declare
all capital and tools the property of the State, save an
indemnity to be granted to the present holders as a transitional
measure? By means of this peremptory, but frank and sincere,
policy, the economic field would have been cleared away; it would
not have cost utopia more, and M. Blanc could then have proceeded
at his ease, and without any hindrance, to the organization of

But what do I say? organize! The whole organic work of M. Blanc
consists in this great act of expropriation, or substitution, if
you prefer: industry once displaced and republicanized and the
great monopoly established, M. Blanc does not doubt that
production will go on exactly as one would wish; he does not
conceive it possible that any one can raise even a single
difficulty in the way of what he calls his SYSTEM. And, in
fact, what objection can be offered to a conception so radically
null, so intangible as that of M. Blanc? The most curious part
of his book is in the select collection which he has made of
objections proposed by certain incredulous persons, which he
answers, as may be imagined, triumphantly. These critics had not
seen that, in discussing M. Blanc's SYSTEM, they were arguing
about the dimensions, weight, and form of a mathematical point.
Now, as it has happened, the controversy maintained by M. Blanc
has taught him more than his own meditations had done; and one
can see that, if the objections had continued, he would have
ended by discovering what he thought he had invented,--the
organization of labor.

But, in fine, has the aim, however narrow, which M. Blanc
pursued,-- namely, the abolition of competition and the guarantee
of success to an enterprise patronized and backed by the
State,--been attained? On this subject I will quote the
reflections of a talented economist, M. Joseph Garnier, to whose
words I will permit myself to add a few comments.

The government, according to M. Blanc, would choose MORAL
WORKMEN, and would give them GOOD WAGES.

So M. Blanc must have men made expressly for him: he does not
flatter himself that he can act on any sort of temperaments. As
for wages, M. Blanc promises that they shall be GOOD; that is
easier than to define their measure.

M. Blanc admits by his hypothesis that these workshops would
yield a net product, and, further, would compete so successfully
with private industry that the latter would change into national

How could that be, if the cost of the national workshops is
higher than that of the free workshops? I have shown in the
third chapter that three hundred workmen in a mill do not produce
for their employer, among them all, a regular net income of
twenty thousand francs, and that these twenty thousand francs,
distributed among the three hundred laborers, would add but
eighteen centimes a day to their income. Now, this is true of
all industries. How will the national workshop, which owes ITS
WORKMEN GOOD WAGES, make up this deficit? By emulation, says M.

M. Blanc points with extreme complacency to the Leclaire
establishment, a society of house-painters doing a very
successful business, which he regards as a living
demonstration of his system. M. Blanc might have added to this
example a multitude of similar societies, which would prove quite
as much as the Leclaire establishment,--that is, no more. The
Leclaire establishment is a collective monopoly, supported by the
great society which envelops it. Now, the question is whether
entire society can become a monopoly, in M. Blanc's sense and
patterned after the Leclaire establishment: I deny it positively.
But a fact touching more closely the question before us, and
which M. Blanc has not taken into consideration, is that it
follows from the distribution accounts furnished by the Leclaire
establishment that, the wages paid being much above the general
average, the first thing to do in a reorganization of society
would be to start up competition with the Leclaire establishment,
either among its own workmen or outside.

Wages would be regulated by the government. The members of the
social workshop would dispose of them as they liked, and THE

Is M. Blanc a communist, yes or no? Let him declare himself once
for all, instead of holding off; and if communism does not make
him more intelligible, we shall at least know what he wants.

In reading the supplement in which M. Blanc has seen fit to
combat the objections which some journals have raised, we see
more clearly the incompleteness of his conception, daughter of at
least three fathers,-- Saint-Simonism, Fourierism, and
communism,--with the aid of politics and a little, a very little,
political economy.

According to his explanations, the State would be only the
regulator, legislator, protector of industry, not the universal
manufacturer or producer. But as he exclusively protects the
social workshops to destroy private industry, he necessarily
brings up in monopoly and falls back into the Saint-Simonian
theory in spite of himself, at least so far as production is

M. Blanc cannot deny it: his SYSTEM is directed against private
industry; and with him power, by its force of initiative, tends
to extinguish all individual initiative, to proscribe free labor.
The coupling of contraries is odious to M. Blanc: accordingly we
see that, after having sacrificed competition to association, he
sacrifices to it liberty also. I am waiting for him to abolish
the family.

Nevertheless hierarchy would result from the elective principle,
as in Fourierism, as in constitutional politics. But these
social workshops again, regulated by law,--will they be anything
but corporations? What is the bond of corporations? The law.
Who will make the law? The government. You suppose that it will
be good? Well, experience has shown that it has never been a
success in regulating the innumerable accidents of industry. You
tell us that it will fix the rate of profits, the rate of wages;
you hope that it will do it in such a way that laborers and
capital will take refuge in the social workshop. But you do not
tell us how equilibrium will be established between these
workshops which will have a tendency to life in common, to the
phalanstery; you do not tell us how these workshops will avoid
competition within and without; how they will provide for the
excess of population in relation to capital; how the
manufacturing social workshops will differ from those of the
fields; and many other things besides. I know well that you will
answer: By the specific virtue of the law! And if your
government, your State, knows not how to make it? Do you not see
that you are sliding down a declivity, and that you are obliged
to grasp at something similar to the existing law? It is easy to
see by reading you that you are especially devoted to the
invention of a power susceptible of application to your system;
but I declare, after reading you carefully, that in my opinion
you have as yet no clear and precise idea of what you need. What
you lack, as well as all of us, is the true conception of liberty
and equality, which you would not like to disown, and which you
are obliged to sacrifice, whatever precautions you may take.

Unacquainted with the nature and functions of power, you have not
dared to stop for a single explanation; you have not given the
slightest example.

Suppose we admit that the workshops succeed as producers; there
will also be commercial workshops to put products in circulation
and effect exchanges. And who then will regulate the price?
Again the law? In truth, I tell you, you will need a new
appearance on Mount Sinai; otherwise you will never get out of
your difficulties, you, your Council of State, your chamber of
representatives, or your areopagus of senators.

The correctness of these reflections cannot be questioned. M.
Blanc, with his organization by the State, is obliged always to
end where he should have begun (so beginning, he would have been
saved the trouble of writing his book),--that is, in the STUDY OF
ECONOMIC SCIENCE. As his critic very well says: "M. Blanc has
made the grave mistake of using political strategy in dealing
with questions which are not amenable to such treatment"; he has
tried to summon the government to a fulfillment of its
obligations, and he has succeeded only in demonstrating more
clearly than ever the incompatibility of socialism with
haranguing and parliamentary democracy. His pamphlet, all
enamelled with eloquent pages, does honor to his literary
capacity: as for the philosophical value of the book, it would be
absolutely the same if the author had confined himself to writing
on each page, in large letters, this single phrase: I PROTEST.

To sum up:

Competition, as an economic position or phase, considered in its
origin, is the necessary result of the intervention of machinery,
of the establishment of the workshop, and of the theory of
reduction of general costs; considered in its own significance
and in its tendency, it is the mode by which collective activity
manifests and exercises itself, the expression of social
spontaneity, the emblem of democracy and equality, the most
energetic instrument for the constitution of value, the support
of association. As the essay of individual forces, it is
the guarantee of their liberty, the first moment of their
harmony, the form of responsibility which unites them all and
makes them solidary.

But competition abandoned to itself and deprived of the direction
of a superior and efficacious principle is only a vague movement,
an endless oscillation of industrial power, eternally tossed
about between those two equally disastrous extremes,--on the one
hand, corporations and patronage, to which we have seen the
workshop give birth, and, on the other, monopoly, which will be
discussed in the following chapter.

Socialism, while protesting, and with reason, against this
anarchical competition, has as yet proposed nothing satisfactory
for its regulation, as is proved by the fact that we meet
everywhere, in the utopias which have seen the light, the
determination or socialization of value abandoned to arbitrary
control, and all reforms ending, now in hierarchical corporation,
now in State monopoly, or the tyranny of communism.



Monopoly, the exclusive commerce, exploitation, or enjoyment of a

Monopoly is the natural opposite of competition. This simple
observation suffices, as we have remarked, to overthrow the
utopias based upon the idea of abolishing competition, as if its
contrary were association and fraternity. Competition is the
vital force which animates the collective being: to destroy it,
if such a supposition were possible, would be to kill society.

But, the moment we admit competition as a necessity, it implies
the idea of monopoly, since monopoly is, as it were, the seat of
each competing individuality. Accordingly the economists have
demonstrated--and M. Rossi has formally admitted it--that
monopoly is the form of social possession, outside of which there
is no labor, no product, no exchange, no wealth. Every landed
possession is a monopoly; every industrial utopia tends to
establish itself as a monopoly; and the same must be said of
other functions not included in these two categories.

Monopoly in itself, then, does not carry the idea of injustice;
in fact, there is something in it which, pertaining to society as
well as to man, legitimates it: that is the POSITIVE side of the
principle which we are about to examine.

But monopoly, like competition, becomes anti-social and
disastrous: how does this happen? By ABUSE, reply the
economists. And it is to defining and repressing the abuses of
monopoly that the magistrates apply themselves; it is in
denouncing them that the new school of economists glories.

We shall show that the so-called abuses of monopoly are only the
effects of the development, in a NEGATIVE sense, of legal
monopoly; that they cannot be separated from their principle
without ruining this principle; consequently, that they are
inaccessible to the law, and that all repression in this
direction is arbitrary and unjust. So that monopoly, the
constitutive principle of society and the condition of wealth, is
at the same time and in the same degree a principle of spoliation
and pauperism; that, the more good it is made to produce, the
more evil is received from it; that without it progress comes to
a standstill, and that with it labor becomes stationary and
civilization disappears.

% 1.--Necessity of monopoly.

Thus monopoly is the inevitable end of competition, which
engenders it by a continual denial of itself: this generation of
monopoly is already its justification. For, since competition is
inherent in society as motion is in living beings, monopoly which
comes in its train, which is its object and its end, and without
which competition would not have been accepted,--monopoly is and
will remain legitimate as long as competition, as long as
mechanical processes and industrial combinations, as long, in
fact, as the division of labor and the constitution of values
shall be necessities and laws.

Therefore by the single fact of its logical generation monopoly
is justified. Nevertheless this justification would seem of
little force and would end only in a more energetic rejection of
competition than ever, if monopoly could not in turn posit itself
by itself and as a principle.

In the preceding chapters we have seen that division of labor is
the specification of the workman considered especially as
intelligence; that the creation of machinery and the organization
of the workshop express his liberty; and that, by competition,
man, or intelligent liberty, enters into action. Now, monopoly
is the expression of victorious liberty, the prize of the
struggle, the glorification of genius; it is the strongest
stimulant of all the steps in progress taken since the beginning
of the world: so true is this that, as we said just now, society,
which cannot exist with it, would not have been formed without

Where, then, does monopoly get this singular virtue, which the
etymology of the word and the vulgar aspect of the thing would
never lead us to suspect?

Monopoly is at bottom simply the autocracy of man over himself:
it is the dictatorial right accorded by nature to every producer
of using his faculties as he pleases, of giving free play to his
thought in whatever direction it prefers, of speculating, in such
specialty as he may please to choose, with all the power of his
resources, of disposing sovereignly of the instruments which he
has created and of the capital accumulated by his economy for any
enterprise the risks of which he may see fit to accept on the
express condition of enjoying alone the fruits of his discovery
and the profits of his venture.

This right belongs so thoroughly to the essence of liberty that
to deny it is to mutilate man in his body, in his soul, and in
the exercise of his faculties, and society, which progresses only
by the free initiative of individuals, soon lacking explorers,
finds itself arrested in its onward march.

It is time to give body to all these ideas by the testimony of

I know a commune where from time immemorial there had been no
roads either for the clearing of lands or for communication with
the outside world. During three-fourths of the year all
importation or exportation of goods was prevented; a barrier of
mud and marsh served as a protection at once against any invasion
from without and any excursion of the inhabitants of the holy and
sacred community. Six horses, in the finest weather, scarcely
sufficed to move a load that any jade could easily have taken
over a good road. The mayor resolved, in spite of the council,
to build a road through the town. For a long time he was
derided, cursed, execrated. They had got along well enough
without a road up to the time of his administration: why need he
spend the money of the commune and waste the time of farmers in
road-duty, cartage, and compulsory service? It was to satisfy
his pride that Monsieur the Mayor desired, at the expense of the
poor farmers, to open such a fine avenue for his city friends who
would come to visit him! In spite of everything the road was
made and the peasants applauded! What a difference! they said:
it used to take eight horses to carry thirty sacks to market, and
we were gone three days; now we start in the morning with two
horses, and are back at night. But in all these remarks nothing
further was heard of the mayor. The event having justified him,
they spoke of him no more: most of them, in fact, as I found out,
felt a spite against him.

This mayor acted after the manner of Aristides. Suppose that,
wearied by the absurd clamor, he had from the beginning proposed
to his constituents to build the road at his expense, provided
they would pay him toll for fifty years, each, however,
remaining free to travel through the fields, as in the past: in
what respect would this transaction have been fraudulent?

That is the history of society and monopolists.

Everybody is not in a position to make a present to his
fellow-citizens of a road or a machine: generally the inventor,
after exhausting his health and substance, expects reward. Deny
then, while still scoffing at them, to Arkwright, Watt, and
Jacquard the privilege of their discoveries; they will shut
themselves up in order to work, and possibly will carry their
secret to the grave. Deny to the settler possession of the soil
which he clears, and no one will clear it.

But, they say, is that true right, social right, fraternal right?

That which is excusable on emerging from primitive communism, an
effect of necessity, is only a temporary expedient which must
disappear in face of a fuller understanding of the rights and
duties of man and society.

I recoil from no hypothesis: let us see, let us investigate. It
is already a great point that the opponents confess that, during
the first period of civilization, things could not have gone
otherwise. It remains to ascertain whether the institutions of
this period are really, as has been said, only temporary, or
whether they are the result of laws immanent in society and
eternal. Now, the thesis which I maintain at this moment is the
more difficult because in direct opposition to the general
tendency, and because I must directly overturn it myself by its

I pray, then, that I may be told how it is possible to make
appeal to the principles of sociability, fraternity, and
solidarity, when society itself rejects every solidary and
fraternal transaction? At the beginning of each industry, at the
first gleam of a discovery, the man who invents is isolated;
society abandons him and remains in the background. To put
it better, this man, relatively to the idea which he has
conceived and the realization of which he pursues, becomes in
himself alone entire society. He has no longer any associates,
no longer any collaborators, no longer any sureties; everybody
shuns him: on him alone falls the responsibility; to him alone,
then, the advantages of the speculation.

But, it is insisted, this is blindness on the part of society, an
abandonment of its most sacred rights and interests, of the
welfare of future generations; and the speculator, better
informed or more fortunate, cannot fairly profit by the monopoly
which universal ignorance gives into his hands.

I maintain that this conduct on the part of society is, as far as
the present is concerned, an act of high prudence; and, as for
the future, I shall prove that it does not lose thereby. I have
already shown in the second chapter, by the solution of the
antinomy of value, that the advantage of every useful discovery
is incomparably less to the inventor, whatever he may do, than to
society; I have carried the demonstration of this point even to
mathematical accuracy. Later I shall show further that, in
addition to the profit assured it by every discovery, society
exercises over the privileges which it concedes, whether
temporarily or perpetually, claims of several kinds, which
largely palliate the excess of certain private fortunes, and the
effect of which is a prompt restoration of equilibrium. But let
us not anticipate.

I observe, then, that social life manifests itself in a double

Development is effected by the free play of individual energies;
the mass is by its nature barren, passive, and hostile to
everything new. It is, if I may venture to use the comparison,
the womb, sterile by itself, but to which come to deposit
themselves the germs created by private activity, which, in
hermaphroditic society, really performs the function of the male

But society preserves itself only so far as it avoids solidarity
with private speculations and leaves every innovation absolutely
to the risk and peril of individuals. It would take but a few
pages to contain the list of useful inventions. The enterprises
that have been carried to a successful issue may be numbered; no
figure would express the multitude of false ideas and imprudent
ventures which every day are hatched in human brains. There is
not an inventor, not a workman, who, for one sane and correct
conception, has not given birth to thousands of chimeras; not an
intelligence which, for one spark of reason, does not emit
whirlwinds of smoke. If it were possible to divide all the
products of the human reason into two parts, putting on one side
those that are useful, and on the other those on which strength,
thought, capital, and time have been spent in error, we should be
startled by the discovery that the excess of the latter over the
former is perhaps a billion per cent. What would become of
society, if it had to discharge these liabilities and settle all
these bankruptcies? What, in turn, would become of the
responsibility and dignity of the laborer, if, secured by the
social guarantee, he could, without personal risk, abandon
himself to all the caprices of a delirious imagination and trifle
at every moment with the existence of humanity?

Wherefore I conclude that what has been practised from the
beginning will be practised to the end, and that, on this point,
as on every other, if our aim is reconciliation, it is absurd to
think that anything that exists can be abolished. For, the world
of ideas being infinite, like nature, and men, today as ever,
being subject to speculation,--that is, to error,--individuals
have a constant stimulus to speculate and society a constant
reason to be suspicious and cautious, wherefore monopoly never
lacks material.

To avoid this dilemma what is proposed? Compensation? In the
first place, compensation is impossible: all values being
monopolized, where would society get the means to indemnify the
monopolists? What would be its mortgage? On the other hand,
compensation would be utterly useless: after all the monopolies
had been compensated, it would remain to organize industry.
Where is the system? Upon what is opinion settled? What
problems have been solved? If the organization is to be of the
hierarchical type, we reenter the system of monopoly; if of the
democratic, we return to the point of departure, for the
compensated industries will fall into the public domain,--that
is, into competition,--and gradually will become monopolies
again; if, finally, of the communistic, we shall simply have
passed from one impossibility to another, for, as we shall
demonstrate at the proper time, communism, like competition and
monopoly, is antinomical, impossible.

In order not to involve the social wealth in an unlimited and
consequently disastrous solidarity, will they content themselves
with imposing rules upon the spirit of invention and enterprise?
Will they establish a censorship to distinguish between men of
genius and fools? That is to suppose that society knows in
advance precisely that which is to be discovered. To submit the
projects of schemers to an advance examination is an a priori
prohibition of all movement. For, once more, relatively to the
end which he has in view, there is a moment when each
manufacturer represents in his own person society itself, sees
better and farther than all other men combined, and frequently
without being able to explain himself or make himself
understood. When Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, Newton's
predecessors, came to the point of saying to Christian society,
then represented by the Church: "The Bible is mistaken; the
earth revolves, and the sun is stationary," they were right
against society, which, on the strength of its senses and
traditions, contradicted them. Could society then have accepted
solidarity with the Copernican system? So little could it do it
that this system openly denied its faith, and that, pending the
accord of reason and revelation, Galileo, one of the responsible
inventors, underwent torture in proof of the new idea. We are
more tolerant, I presume; but this very toleration proves that,
while according greater liberty to genius, we do not mean to be
less discreet than our ancestors. Patents rain, but WITHOUT
GOVERNMENTAL GUARANTEE. Property titles are placed in the
keeping of citizens, but neither the property list nor the
charter guarantee their value: it is for labor to make them
valuable. And as for the scientific and other missions which the
government sometimes takes a notion to entrust to penniless
explorers, they are so much extra robbery and corruption.

In fact, society can guarantee to no one the capital necessary
for the testing of an idea by experiment; in right, it cannot
claim the results of an enterprise to which it has not
subscribed: therefore monopoly is indestructible. For the rest,
solidarity would be of no service: for, as each can claim for his
whims the solidarity of all and would have the same right to
obtain the government's signature in blank, we should soon arrive
at the universal reign of caprice,--that is, purely and simply at
the statu quo.

Some socialists, very unhappily inspired--I say it with all the
force of my conscience--by evangelical abstractions, believe
that they have solved the difficulty by these fine maxims:
"Inequality of capacities proves the inequality of duties"; "You
have received more from nature, give more to your brothers," and
other high-sounding and touching phrases, which never fail of
their effect on empty heads, but which nevertheless are as simple
as anything that it is possible to imagine. The practical
formula deduced from these marvellous adages is that each laborer
owes all his time to society, and that society should give back
to him in exchange all that is necessary to the satisfaction of
his wants in proportion to the resources at its disposal.

May my communistic friends forgive me! I should be less severe
upon their ideas if I were not irreversibly convinced, in my
reason and in my heart, that communism, republicanism, and all
the social, political, and religious utopias which disdain facts
and criticism, are the greatest obstacle which progress has now
to conquer. Why will they never understand that fraternity can
be established only by justice; that justice alone, the
condition, means, and law of liberty and fraternity, must be the
object of our study; and that its determination and formula must
be pursued without relaxation, even to the minutest details? Why
do writers familiar with economic language forget that
superiority of talents is synonymous with superiority of wants,
and that, instead of expecting more from vigorous than from
ordinary personalities, society should constantly look out that
they do not receive more than they render, when it is already so
hard for the mass of mankind to render all that it receives?
Turn which way you will, you must always come back to the cash
book, to the account of receipts and expenditures, the sole
guarantee against large consumers as well as against small
producers. The workman continually lives IN ADVANCE of his
production; his tendency is always to get CREDIT, contract DEBTS
and go into BANKRUPTCY; it is perpetually necessary to remind him

To suppose that the laborer of great capacity will content
himself, in favor of the weak, with half his wages, furnish his
services gratuitously, and produce, as the people say, FOR THE
KING OF PRUSSIA--that is, for that abstraction called society,
the sovereign, or my brothers,--is to base society on a
sentiment, I do not say beyond the reach of man, but one which,
erected systematically into a principle, is only a false virtue,
a dangerous hypocrisy. Charity is recommended to us as a
reparation of the infirmities which afflict our fellows by
accident, and, viewing it in this light, I can see that charity
may be organized; I can see that, growing out of solidarity
itself, it may become simply justice. But charity taken as an
instrument of equality and the law of equilibrium would be the
dissolution of society. Equality among men is produced by the
rigorous and inflexible law of labor, the proportionality of
values, the sincerity of exchanges, and the equivalence of
functions,--in short, by the mathematical solution of all

That is why charity, the prime virtue of the Christian, the
legitimate hope of the socialist, the object of all the efforts
of the economist, is a social vice the moment it is made a
principle of constitution and a law; that is why certain
economists have been able to say that legal charity had caused
more evil in society than proprietary usurpation. Man, like the
society of which he is a part, has a perpetual account current
with himself; all that he consumes he must produce. Such is the
general rule, which no one can escape without being, ipso facto
struck with dishonor or suspected of fraud. Singular idea,
truly,--that of decreeing, under pretext of fraternity, the
relative inferiority of the majority of men! After this
beautiful declaration nothing will be left but to draw its
consequences; and soon, thanks to fraternity, aristocracy will be

Double the normal wages of the workman, and you invite him to
idleness, humiliate his dignity, and demoralize his conscience;
take away from him the legitimate price of his efforts, and you
either excite his anger or exalt his pride. In either case you
damage his fraternal feelings. On the contrary, make enjoyment
conditional upon labor, the only way provided by nature to
associate men and make them good and happy, and you go back under
the law of economic distribution, PRODUCTS ARE BOUGHT WITH
PRODUCTS. Communism, as I have often complained, is the very
denial of society in its foundation, which is the progressive
equivalence of functions and capacities. The communists, toward
whom all socialism tends, do not believe in equality by nature
and education; they supply it by sovereign decrees which they
cannot carry out, whatever they may do. Instead of seeking
justice in the harmony of facts, they take it from their
feelings, calling justice everything that seems to them to be
love of one's neighbor, and incessantly confounding matters of
reason with those of sentiment.

Why then continually interject fraternity, charity, sacrifice,
and God into the discussion of economic questions? May it not be
that the utopists find it easier to expatiate upon these grand
words than to seriously study social manifestations?

Fraternity! Brothers as much as you please, provided I am the
big brother and you the little; provided society, our common
mother, honors my primogeniture and my services by doubling my
portion. You will provide for my wants, you say, in proportion
to your resources. I intend, on the contrary, that such
provision shall be in proportion to my labor; if not, I cease to

Charity! I deny charity; it is mysticism. In vain do you talk
to me of fraternity and love: I remain convinced that you love me
but little, and I feel very sure that I do not love you. Your
friendship is but a feint, and, if you love me, it is from
self-interest. I ask all that my products cost me, and only what
they cost me: why do you refuse me?

Sacrifice! I deny sacrifice; it is mysticism. Talk to me of
DEBT and CREDIT, the only criterion in my eyes of the just and
the unjust, of good and evil in society. To each according to
his works, first; and if, on occasion, I am impelled to aid you,
I will do it with a good grace; but I will not be constrained.
To constrain me to sacrifice is to assassinate me.

God! I know no God; mysticism again. Begin by striking this
word from your remarks, if you wish me to listen to you; for
three thousand years of experience have taught me that whoever
talks to me of God has designs on my liberty or on my purse. How
much do you owe me? How much do I owe you? That is my religion
and my God.

Monopoly owes its existence both to nature and to man: it has its
source at once in the profoundest depths of our conscience and in
the external fact of our individualization. Just as in our body
and our mind everything has its specialty and property, so our
labor presents itself with a proper and specific character, which
constitutes its quality and value. And as labor cannot manifest
itself without material or an object for its exercise, the person
necessarily attracting the thing, monopoly is established from
subject to object as infallibly as duration is constituted from
past to future. Bees, ants, and other animals living in society
seem endowed individually only with automatism; with them soul
and instinct are almost exclusively collective. That is why,
among such animals, there can be no room for privilege and
monopoly; why, even in their most volitional operations, they
neither consult nor deliberate. But, humanity being
individualized in its plurality, man becomes inevitably a
monopolist, since, if not a monopolist, he is nothing; and the
social problem is to find out, not how to abolish, but how to
reconcile, all monopolies.

The most remarkable and the most immediate effects of monopoly

1. In the political order, the classification of humanity into
families, tribes, cities, nations, States: this is the elementary
division of humanity into groups and sub-groups of laborers,
distinguished by race, language, customs, and climate. It was by
monopoly that the human race took possession of the globe, as it
will be by association that it will become complete sovereign

Political and civil law, as conceived by all legislators without
exception and as formulated by jurists, born of this patriotic
and national organization of societies, forms, in the series of
social contradictions, a first and vast branch, the study of
which by itself alone would demand four times more time than we
can give it in discussing the question of industrial economy
propounded by the Academy.

2. In the economic order, monopoly contributes to the increase of
comfort, in the first place by adding to the general wealth
through the perfecting of methods, and then by
CAPITALIZING,--that is, by consolidating the conquests of labor
obtained by division, machinery, and competition. From this
effect of monopoly has resulted the economic fiction by which the
capitalist is considered a producer and capital an agent of
production; then, as a consequence of this fiction, the theory of

On this point we have a few considerations to present. First let
us quote J. B. Say:

The value produced is the GROSS product: after the costs of
production have been deducted, this value is the NET product.

Considering a nation as a whole, it has no net product; for, as
products have no value beyond the costs of production, when these
costs are cut off, the entire value of the product is cut off.
National production, annual production, should always therefore
be understood as gross production.

The annual revenue is the gross revenue.

The term net production is applicable only when considering the
interests of one producer in opposition to those of other
producers. The manager of an enterprise gets his PROFIT from
the value PRODUCED after deducting the value CONSUMED. But
what to him is value consumed, such as the purchase of a
productive service, is so much income to the performer of the
service.--Treatise on Political Economy: Analytical Table.

These definitions are irreproachable. Unhappily J. B. Say did
not see their full bearing, and could not have foreseen that one
day his immediate successor at the College of France would attack
them. M. Rossi has pretended to refute the proposition of J. B.
PRODUCT by this consideration,--that nations, no more than
individuals of enterprise, can produce without advances, and
that, if J. B. Say's formula were true, it would follow that the

Book of the day: