Imágenes de páginas

chant and manufacturer brings them together, and from their compound derives the black liquid, applied to the transmission of useful science. This joint operation of the merchant and manufacturer is analogous to that of the husbandman, who chooses his object and effects its attainment by precisely the same kind of means as the other two.

No human being has the faculty of originally creating matter, which is more than nature itself can do. But any one may avail himself of the agents offered him by nature, to invest matter with utility. In fact, industry is nothing more or less than the human employment of natural agents; the most perfect product of labour, the one that derives nearly its whole value from its workmanship, is probably the result of the action of steel, a natural product, upon some substance or other, likewise a natural product.*

Through ignorance of this principle, the economists of the 18th century, though many enlightened writers were to be reckoned amongst them, were betrayed into the most serious errors. They allowed no industry to be productive, but that which procured the raw materials; as the industry of the husbandman, the fisherman, and the miner; not adverting to the distinction, that wealth consists, not in matter, but in the value of matter; because matter without value is no item of wealth; otherwise water, flint-stones, and dust of the roads, would be wealth. Wherefore, if the value of matter constitutes wealth, wealth is to be created by the annexation of value. Practically, the man who has in his warehouse a quintal of wool worked up into fine cloths, is richer than one who has the same quantity of wool in packs.

To this position the economists replied, that the additional value communicated to a product by manufacture, was no more than equivalent to the value consumed by the manufacturer during the process; for, said they, the competition of manufactures prevents their ever raising the price beyond the bare amount of their own expenditure and consumption; wherefore their labour adds nothing to the total wealth of the community, because their wants on the one side destroy as much, as their industry produces on the other.t

* Alagrotti in his Opuscula, by way of exemplifying the prodigious addition of value given to an object by industry, adduces the spiral springs that check the balance-wheels of watches. A pound weight of pig-iron costs the operative manufacturer about five sous. This is worked up into steel, of which is made the little spring that moves the balance-wheel of a watch. Each of these springs weighs but the tenth part of a grain; and, when completed, may be sold as high as eighteen fr.: so that out of a pound of iron, allowing something for loss of metal, 80,000 of these springs may be made, and a substance of five sous value be wrought into a value of 1,440,000 fr.

† Mercier de la Riviere, in his work entitled, “Ordre Naturel des Societés Politiques," tom. ii. p. 255, while labouring to prove, that manufacturing labour is barren and unproductive, makes use of an argument, which I think it may be of some service to refute, because it has been often repeated in different shapes, and some of them specious enough. He says, "that if the

But it should have been previously demonstrated by those who made use of this argument, that the value, consumed by mechanics and artizans, must of necessity barely equal the value produced by them, which is not the fact; for it is unquestionable, that more savings are made, and more capital accumulated from the profits of trade and manufacture, than from those of agriculture.(1)

Besides, even admitting that the profits of manufacturing industry are consumed in the satisfaction of the necessary wants of the manufacturers and their families, that circumstance does not prevent them being positive acquisitions of wealth. For unless they were so, they could not satisfy their wants: the profits of the land-owner and agriculturist are allowed to be items of positive wealth; yet they are equally consumed in the maintenance of those classes.

Commercial, in like manner as manufacturing industry, concurs in production, by augmenting the value of a product by its transport from one place to another. A quintal of Brazil cotton has acquired greater utility and therefore larger value, by the time it reaches a warehouse in Europe, than it possessed in one at Pernambuco. The transport is a modification that the trader gives to the commodity, whereby he adapts to our use what was not before available; which modification is equally useful, complex, and uncertain in the result, as any it derives from the other two branches of industry. He avails himself of the natural properties of the timber and the metals used in the construction of his ships, of the hemp whereof his rigging is composed, of the wind that fills his sails, of all the natural agents brought to concur in his purpose, with precisely

unreal products of industry are considered as realities, it is a necessary inference, that an useless multiplication of workmanship is a multiplication of wealth." But, because human labour is productive of value, when it has an useful result, it by no means follows, that it is productive of value, when its result is either useless or injurious. All labour is not productive; but such only as adds a real value to any substance or thing. And the futility of this argument of the Economists is put beyond all question by the circumstance, that it may be equally employed against their own system and that of their opponents. They may be told, "You admit the industry of the cultivator to be productive; therefore he has only to plough and sow his fields ten times a-year to increase his productiveness ten-fold," which is absurd. •

(1) [Our author, in here asserting, "that more savings are made, and more capital accumulated from the profits of trade and manufactures, than from those of agriculture," has fallen into an error, which it is proper to notice. In the absence of prohibitions and restraints, the profits of agriculture, manufactures and commerce, will all be on an equality, or always nearly approaching towards it; for any material difference will cause a diversion of capital and industry to the more productive channel, and by that means restore the equilibrium. In overthrowing the hypothesis of the Economists, the author has inadvertently, for a moment, lost sight of his own general principles which so clearly establish the equality of profits in all the different branches of industry.] AMERICAN EDITOR.

the same view and the same result, and in the same manner too, as the agriculturist avails himself of the earth, the rain, and the atmosphere.*

Thus, when Raynal says of commerce, as contrasted with agriculture and the arts, that "it produces nothing of itself," he shows himself to have had no just conception of the phenomenon of production. In this instance Raynal has fallen into the same error with regard to commerce, as the economists made respecting both commerce and manufacture. They pronounced agriculture to be the sole channel of production; Raynal refers production to the two channels of agriculture and manufacture: his position is nearer the truth than the other, but still is erroneous.

Condillac also is confused in his endeavour to explain the mode in which commerce produces. He pretends that, because all commodities cost to the seller less than to the buyer, they derive an increase of value from the mere act of transfer from one hand to another. But this is not so: for, since a sale is nothing else but an act of barter, in which one kind of goods, silver for example, is received in lieu of another kind of goods, the loss which either of the parties dealing should sustain on one article would be equivalent to the profit he would make on the other, and there would be to the community no production of value whatsoever.† When Spanish wine

Genovesi, who lectured on Political Economy at Naples, defines commerce to be "the exchange of superfluities for necessaries." He gives as his reason, that in every transaction of exchange, the article received appears to each of the contracting parties more necessary than that given.— This is a far-fetched notion, which I think myself called on to notice, because it has obtained considerable currency. It would be difficult to prove, that a poor labourer, who goes to the alehouse on a Sunday, exchanges there his superfluity for a necessary. In all fair traffic, there occurs a mutual exchange of two things, which are worth one the other, at the time and place of exchange. Commercial production, that is to say, the value added by commerce to the things exchanged, is not operated by the act of exchange, but by the commercial operations that precede it.

The Count de Verri is the only writer within my knowledge, who has explained the true principle and ground-work of commerce. In the year 1771 he thus expresses himself: "Commerce is in fact nothing more than the transport of goods from one place to another." Meditazioni sulla economia politica, § 4. The celebrated Adam Smith himself appears to have had no very clear idea of commercial production. He merely discards the opinion, that there is any production of value in the act of exchange.

This circumstance had escaped the attention of Sismondi, or he would not have said, "The trader places himself between the producer and the consumer, to benefit them both at once, making his charge for that benefit upon both." (Nouveaux Principes d' Economie Pol. Liv. ii. ch. 8.) He would make it appear as if the trader subsisted wholly upon the values produced by the agriculturist and the manufacturer; whereas he is maintained by the real value he himself communicates to commodities by giving them an additional modification, an useful property. It is this very notion that stirs up the popular indignation against the dealers in grain.

L. Say, of Nantes, has fallen into the same mistake (Principales Causes de la Richesse, &c. p. 110,) By way of demonstrating the value conferred

is bought at Paris, equal value is really given for equal value: the silver paid, and the wine received, are worth one the other; but the wine had not the same value before its export from Alicant: its value has really increased in the hands of the trader, by the circumstance of transport, and not by the circumstance, or at the moment, of exchange. The seller does not play the rogue, nor the buyer the fool; and Condillac has no grounds for his position, that "if men always exchanged equal value for equal value, there would be no profit to be made by the traders."*

In some particular cases the two other branches of industry produce in a manner analagous to commerce, viz. by giving a value to things to which they actually communicate no new quality, but that of approximation to the consumer. Of this description is the industry of miners. The coal or metal may exist in the earth, in a perfect state, but unpossessed of value. The miner extracts them thence, and this operation gives them a value, by fitting them for the use of mankind. So also of the herring fishery. Whether in or out of the sea the fish is the same; but, under the latter circumstances, it has acquired an utility, a value, it did not before possess.t

Examples might be infinitely multiplied, and would all bear as close an affinity, as those natural objects, which the naturalist classifies only to facilitate their description.

This fundamental error of the Economists, in which I have shown that their adversaries in some measure participated, led them to the strangest conclusions. According to their theory, the traders and manufacturers, being unable to add an iota to

by commerce to be unreal, he alleges it to be absorbed by the charges of transport. By this incidental process of reasoning, the economists concluded manufacture to be unproductive: not perceiving, that in these very charges consists the revenue of the commercial and manufacturing producers; and that it is in this way, that the values raised by production at large are distributed amongst the several producers.

See his work entitled "Le Commerce et le Gouvernment considérés relativement l'un a l'autre." 1re. partie, ch. 6.

We may consider as agents of the same class of industry, the cultivator of the land, the breeder of cattle, the woodcutter, the fisherman that takes fish he has been at no pains in breeding, and the miner who, from the bowels of the earth, extracts metal, stone, or combustibles, that nature has placed there in a perfect state; and, to avoid multiplicity of denominations, the whole of these occupations may be called by the name of agricultural industry, because the superficial cultivation of the earth, is the chief and most important of all. Terms are of little consequence, when the ideas are clear and definite. The wine grower, who himself expresses the juice of his grapes, performs a mechanical operation, that partakes more of manufacture than of agriculture. But it matters little whether he be classed as a manufacturer or agriculturist; provided that it be clearly comprehended in what manner his industry adds to the value of the product. If we wish to give separate consideration to every possible manner of giving value to things, industry may be infinitely subdivided. If it be the object to generalize to the utmost, it may be treated as one and the same; for every branch of it will resolve itself into this: the employment of natural substances and agents in the adaptation of products to human consumption.

the general stock of wealth, live entirely at the expense of the sole producers, that is to say, the proprietors and cultivators of the land. Whatever new value they may communicate to things, they at the same time consume an equivalent product, furnished by the real producers: manufacturing and commercial nations, therefore, subsist wholly upon the wages they receive from their agricultural customers; in proof of which position, they alleged that Colbert ruined France by his protection of manufactures, &c.*

The truth is, that, in whatever class of industry a person is engaged, he subsists upon the profit he derives from the additional value, or portion of value, no matter in what ratio, which his agency attaches to the product he is at work upon. The total value of products serves in this way to pay the profits of those occupied in production. The wants of mankind are supplied and satisfied out of the gross values produced and created, and not out of the net values only.

A nation, or a class of the nation, engaged in manufacturing or commercial industry, is not a whit more nor less in the pay of another, than one employed in agriculture. The value created by one branch is of the same nature as that created by the others. Two equal values are worth one the other, although perhaps the fruit of different branches of industry: and when Poland barters its staple product, wheat, for the staple commodity of Holland, East and West India produce, Holland is no more in the pay or service of Poland, than Poland is of Holland.

Nay, Poland herself, which exports at the rate of ten millions of wheat annually, and therefore, according to the Economists, takes the sure road to national wealth, is, notwithstanding, poor and depopulated: and why?-Because she confines her industry to agrículture, though she might be at the same time a commercial and manufacturing state. Instead of keeping Holland in her pay, she may with more propriety be said to receive wages from the latter, for the raising of ten millions of wheat per annum. Nor is she a jot less dependent than the nations that buy wheat of her: for she has just as much desire to sell to them, as they have to buy of her.t"

Moreover, it is not true that Colbert ruined France. On the contrary, the fact is that France, under Colbert's administration, emerged from the distress that two regencies and a weak reign had involved her in. She was, indeed, afterwards ruined again: but for this second calamity, she may thank the pageantry and the wars of Louis XIV. Nay, the very prodigality of that prince is an undeniable evidence of the vast re

⚫ See the numberless writings of that sect.

We shall find in the sequel, that, if any one nation can be said to be in the service of another, it is that, which is the most dependent; and that the most dependent nations are, not those which have a scarcity of land, but those which have a scarcity of capital.

« AnteriorContinuar »