hostem aeterna auctertas esto.
Against the enemy, revendication is eternal.
OF THE TWELVE TABLES.
THAT PROPERTY IS IMPOSSIBLE.
resort of proprietors, — the overwhelming argument whose invincible
reassures them, — is that, in their opinion,
equality of conditions is impossible. "Equality of conditions
is a chimera," they cry with a knowing air; "distribute
wealth equally to-day — to-morrow this equality will have vanished."
hackneyed objection, which they repeat everywhere with the
assurance, they never fail to add the following
comment, as a sort of Glory be to the Father: "If all men
were equal, nobody would work." This anthem is sung with
"If all were
masters, nobody would obey."
"If nobody were
rich, who would employ the poor?"
And, "If nobody
were poor, who would labor for the rich?"
But let us have done with invective — we have better arguments
at our command.
If I show that property itself is impossible — that it is property
which is a contradiction, a chimera, a utopia; and if I show
it no longer by metaphysics and jurisprudence, but by figures,
equations, and calculations, — imagine the fright of the astounded
proprietor! And you, reader; what do you think of the retort?
Numbers govern the
world — mundum regunt numeri. This proverb applies as aptly
to the moral and political, as to the sidereal
and molecular, world. The elements of justice are identical with
those of algebra; legislation and government are simply the arts
of classifying and balancing powers; all jurisprudence falls
within the rules of arithmetic. This chapter and the next will
serve to lay the foundations of this extraordinary doctrine.
Then will be unfolded to the reader's vision an immense and novel
career; then shall we commence to see in numerical relations
the synthetic unity of philosophy and the sciences; and, filled
with admiration and enthusiasm for this profound and majestic
simplicity of Nature, we shall shout with the apostle: "Yes,
the Eternal has made all things by number, weight, and measure!" We
shall understand not only that equality of conditions is possible,
but that all else is impossible; that this seeming impossibility
which we charge upon it arises from the fact that we always think
of it in connection either with the proprietary or the communistic régime, — political systems equally irreconcilable with
human nature. We shall see finally that equality is constantly
realized without our knowledge, even at the very moment when
we are pronouncing it incapable of realization; that the time
draws near when, without any effort or even wish of ours, we
shall have it universally established; that with it, in it, and
by it, the natural and true political order must make itself
It has been said, in speaking of the blindness and obstinacy
of the passions, that, if man had any thing to gain by denying
the truths of arithmetic, he would find some means of unsettling
their certainty: here is an opportunity to try this curious experiment.
I attack property, no longer with its own maxims, but with arithmetic.
Let the proprietors prepare to verify my figures; for, if unfortunately
for them the figures prove accurate, the proprietors are lost.
In proving the impossibility of property, I complete the proof
of its injustice. In fact, —
is just must be useful;
is useful must be true;
is true must be possible;
Therefore, every thing which is impossible is untrue, useless,
unjust. Then, — a priori, — we may judge of the justice of any
thing by its possibility; so that if the thing were absolutely
impossible, it would be absolutely unjust.
PROPERTY IS PHYSICALLY AND MATHEMATICALLY IMPOSSIBLE.
AXIOM. — Property
is the Right of Increase claimed by the Proprietor over any
thing which he has stamped as his own.
This proposition is purely an axiom, because, —
It is not
a definition, since it does not express all that is included
in the right
of property — the right of sale, of exchange,
of gift; the right to transform, to alter, to consume, to destroy,
to use and abuse, &c. All these rights are so many different
powers of property, which we may consider separately; but which
we disregard here, that we may devote all our attention to this
single one, — the right of increase.
It is universally
admitted. No one can deny it without denying the facts, without
being instantly belied by universal custom.
It is self-evident,
since property is always accompanied (either actually or potentially)
by the fact which this axiom
expresses; and through this fact, mainly, property manifests,
establishes, and asserts itself.
its negation involves a contradiction. The right of increase
is really an inherent right, so essential a part
of property, that, in its absence, property is null and void.
— Increase receives different names according to the thing
by which it is yielded: if by land, farm-rent; if by
houses and furniture, rent; if by life-investments, revenue;
if by money, interest; if by exchange, advantage,
gain, profit (three things which must not be confounded with
legitimate price of labor).
— a sort of royal prerogative, of tangible and consumable homage
— is due to the proprietor on account of his nominal and
metaphysical occupancy. His seal is set upon the thing; that
is enough to prevent any one else from occupying it without his permission.
This permission to use his things the proprietor may, if he
chooses, freely grant. Commonly he sells it. This sale is really
a stellionate and an extortion; but by the legal fiction of the
right of property, this same sale, severely punished, we know
not why, in other cases, is a source of profit and value to the
demanded by the proprietor, in payment for this permission,
is expressed in monetary terms by the dividend which the supposed
product yields in nature. So that, by the right of increase,
the proprietor reaps and does not plough; gleans and does not
till; consumes and does not produce; enjoys and does not labor.
Very different from the idols of the Psalmist are the gods of
property: the former had hands and felt not; the latter, on the
contrary, manus habent et palpabunt.
of increase is conferred in a very mysterious and supernatural
inauguration of a proprietor is accompanied by the awful ceremonies
of an ancient initiation. First, comes the consecration of
the article; a consecration which makes known to all that they
offer up a suitable sacrifice to the proprietor, whenever they
wish, by his permission obtained and signed, to use his article.
comes the anathema, which prohibits — except on the conditions
aforesaid — all persons from touching the article, even in the
proprietor's absence; and pronounces every violator of property
sacrilegious, infamous, amenable to the secular power, and deserving
of being handed over to it.
the dedication, which enables the proprietor or patron saint
— the god chosen to watch over the article — to inhabit it
mentally, like a divinity in his sanctuary. By means of this
dedication, the substance of the article — so to speak — becomes
converted into the person of the proprietor, who is regarded
as ever present in its form.
This is exactly the
doctrine of the writers on jurisprudence. "Property," says
Toullier, "is a moral quality inherent in a thing;
an actual bond which fastens it to the proprietor, and which
cannot be broken save by his act." Locke humbly doubted
whether God could make matter intelligent. Toullier asserts
that the proprietor
renders it moral. How much does he lack of being a God? These
are by no means exaggerations.
is the right of increase; that is, the power to produce
without labor. Now, to produce without labor is to make something
from nothing; in short, to create. Surely it is no more difficult
to do this than to moralize matter. The jurists are right, then,
in applying to proprietors this passage from the Scriptures,
dixi: Dii estis et filii Excelsi omnes, — "I have said,
Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High."
is the right of increase. To us this axiom shall be
like the name of the beast in the Apocalypse, — a name in which
is hidden the complete explanation of the whole mystery of this
beast. It was known that he who should solve the mystery of this
name would obtain a knowledge of the whole prophecy, and would
succeed in mastering the beast. Well! by the most careful interpretation
of our axiom we shall kill the sphinx of property.
from this eminently characteristic fact — the right
of increase — we shall pursue the
old serpent through his coils; we shall count the murderous
entwinings of this frightful tænia,
whose head, with its thousand suckers, is always hidden from
the sword of its most violent enemies, though abandoning to them
immense fragments of its body. It requires something more than
courage to subdue this monster. It was written that it should
not die until a proletaire, armed with a magic wand, had fought
The amount of increase is proportional to the thing increased. Whatever
be the rate of interest, — whether it rise to three, five,
or ten per cent., or fall to one-half, one-
fourth, one-tenth, — it does not matter; the law of increase
remains the same. The law is as follows: —
All capital — the cash value of which can be estimated — may be
considered as a term in an arithmetical series which progresses
in the ratio of one hundred, and the revenue yielded by this
capital as the corresponding term of another arithmetical series
which progresses in a ratio equal to the rate of interest. Thus,
a capital of five hundred francs being the fifth term of the
arithmetical progression whose ratio is one hundred, its revenue
at three per cent. will be indicated by the fifth term of the
arithmetical progression whose ratio is three: —
100 . 200 . 300 . 400 . 500. 3 . 6 . 9 . 12 . 15.
with this sort of logarithms — tables of which, calculated
to a very high degree, are possessed by proprietors —
will give us the key to the most puzzling problems, and cause
us to experience a series of surprises.
logarithmic theory of the right of increase, a piece
of property, together with its income, may be defined as a
number whose logarithm is equal to the sum of its units divided
by one hundred, and multiplied by the rate of interest.
a house valued at one hundred thousand francs, and leased at
five per cent., yields a revenue of five thousand francs, according
to the formula 100,000 x 5 / 100 = five thousand. Vice versa,
a piece of land which yields, at two and a half per cent, a
revenue of three thousand francs is worth one hundred and twenty
thousand francs, according to this other formula; 3,000 x 100
/ 21/2 = one hundred and twenty thousand.
In the first case, the ratio of the progression which marks
the increase of interest is five; in the second, it is two and
Observation. — The
forms of increase known as farm-rent, income, and interest
are paid annually; rent is paid by the week, the
month, or the year; profits and gains are paid at the time of
exchange. Thus, the amount of increase is proportional both to
the thing increased, and the time during which it increases;
in other words, usury grows like a cancer — foenus serpit
increase paid to the proprietor by the occupant is a dead
loss to the
latter. For if the proprietor owed, in exchange for the increase
which he receives, some thing more than the
permission which he grants, his right of property would not be
perfect — he would not possess jure optimo, jure perfecto;
that is, he would not be in reality a proprietor. Then, all which
passes from the hands of the occupant into those of the proprietor
in the name of increase, and as the price of the permission to
occupy, is a permanent gain for the latter, and a dead loss and
annihilation for the former; to whom none of it will return,
save in the forms of gift, alms, wages paid for his services,
or the price of merchandise which he has delivered. In a word,
increase perishes so far as the borrower is concerned; or to
use the more energetic Latin phrase, — res perit solventi.
right of increase oppresses the proprietor as well as the
The master of a thing, as its proprietor, levies a tax for
the use of his property upon himself as its possessor,
equal to that which he would receive from a third party; so that
capital bears interest in the hands of the capitalist, as well
as in those of the borrower and the commandité. If, indeed,
rather than accept a rent of five hundred francs for my apartment,
prefer to occupy and enjoy it, it is clear that I shall become
my own debtor for a rent equal to that which I deny myself. This
principle is universally practised in business, and is regarded
as an axiom by the economists. Manufacturers, also, who have
the advantage of being proprietors of their floating capital,
although they owe no interest to any one, in calculating their
profits subtract from them, not only their running expenses and
the wages of their employees, but also the interest on their
capital. For the same reason, money-lenders retain in their own
possession as little money as possible; for, since all capital
necessarily bears interest, if this interest is supplied by no
one, it comes out of the capital, which is to that extent diminished.
Thus, by the right of increase, capital eats itself up. This
is, doubtless, the idea that Papinius intended to convey in the
phrase, as elegant as it is forcible — Foenus mordet
I beg pardon for using Latin so frequently in discussing this
subject; it is an homage which I pay to the most usurious nation
that ever existed.
Property is impossible, because it demands Something for Nothing.
The discussion of this proposition covers the same ground as
that of the origin of farm-rent, which is so much debated by
the economists. When I read the writings of the greater part
of these men, I cannot avoid a feeling of contempt mingled with
anger, in view of this mass of nonsense, in which the detestable
vies with the absurd. It would be a repetition of the story of
the elephant in the moon, were it not for the atrocity of the
consequences. To seek a rational and legitimate origin of that
which is, and ever must be, only robbery, extortion, and plunder — that
must be the height of the proprietor's folly; the last degree
of bedevilment into which minds, otherwise judicious, can be
thrown by the perversity of selfishness.
farmer," says Say, "is
a wheat manufacturer who, among other tools which serve him
in modifying the material
from which he makes the wheat, employs one large tool, which
we call a field. If he is not the proprietor of the field, if
he is only a tenant, he pays the proprietor for the productive
service of this tool. The tenant is reimbursed by the purchaser,
the latter by another, until the product reaches the consumer;
who redeems the first payment, plus all the others, by means
of which the product has at last come into his hands."
Let us lay aside the subsequent payments by which the product
reaches the consumer, and, for the present, pay attention only
to the first one of all, — the rent paid to the proprietor by
the tenant. On what ground, we ask, is the proprietor entitled
to this rent?
to Ricardo, MacCulloch, and Mill, farm-rent, properly speaking,
is simply the excess of the product of the most fertile
land over that of lands of an inferior quality; so that farm-rent
is not demanded for the former until the increase of population
renders necessary the cultivation of the latter.
It is difficult to see any sense in this. How can a right to
the land be based upon a difference in the quality of the land?
How can varieties of soil engender a principle of legislation
and politics? This reasoning is either so subtle, or so stupid,
that the more I think of it, the more bewildered I become. Suppose
two pieces of land of equal area; the one, A, capable of supporting
ten thousand inhabitants; the other, B, capable of supporting
nine thousand only: when, owing to an increase in their number,
the inhabitants of A shall be forced to cultivate B, the landed
proprietors of A will exact from their tenants in A a rent proportional
to the difference between ten and nine. So say, I think, Ricardo,
MacCulloch, and Mill. But if A supports as many inhabitants as
it can contain, — that is, if the inhabitants of A, by our hypothesis,
have only just enough land to keep them alive, — how can they
had gone no farther than to say that the difference in land
has occasioned farm-rent, instead of caused it, this
observation would have taught us a valuable lesson; namely, that
farm-rent grew out of a desire for equality. Indeed, if all men
have an equal right to the possession of good land, no one can
be forced to cultivate bad land without indemnification. Farm-
rent — according to Ricardo, MacCulloch, and Mill — would then
have been a compensation for loss and hardship. This system of
practical equality is a bad one, no doubt; but it sprang from
good intentions. What argument can Ricardo, MacCulloch, and Mill
develop therefrom in favor of property? Their theory turns against
themselves, and strangles them.
Malthus thinks that farm-rent has its source in the power possessed
by land of producing more than is necessary to supply the wants
of the men who cultivate it. I would ask Malthus why successful
labor should entitle the idle to a portion of the products?
worthy Malthus is mistaken in regard to the fact. Yes; land
has the power of producing more than is needed by those
who cultivate it, if by cultivators is meant tenants only. The
tailor also makes more clothes than he wears, and the cabinet-
maker more furniture than he uses. But, since the various professions
imply and sustain one another, not only the farmer, but the followers
of all arts and trades — even to the doctor and the school-teacher — are,
and ought to be, regarded as cultivators of the land. Malthus
bases farm-rent upon the principle of commerce. Now, the fundamental
law of commerce being equivalence of the products exchanged,
any thing which destroys this equivalence violates the law. There
is an error in the estimate which needs to be corrected.
Buchanan — a commentator on Smith — regarded farm-rent as the
result of a monopoly, and maintained that labor alone is productive.
Consequently, he thought that, without this monopoly, products
would rise in price; and he found no basis for farm-rent save
in the civil law. This opinion is a corollary of that which makes
the civil law the basis of property. But why has the civil law — which
ought to be the written expression of justice — authorized this
monopoly? Whoever says monopoly, necessarily excludes justice.
Now, to say that farm-rent is a monopoly sanctioned by the law,
is to say that injustice is based on justice, — a contradiction
Say answers Buchanan,
that the proprietor is not a monopolist, because a monopolist "is
one who does not increase the utility of the merchandise which
passes through his hands."
How much does the proprietor increase the utility of his tenant's
products? Has he ploughed, sowed, reaped, mowed, winnowed, weeded?
These are the processes by which the tenant and his employees
increase the utility of the material which they consume for the
purpose of reproduction.
proprietor increases the utility of products by means of his
implement, the land. This implement receives
in one state, and returns in another the materials of which wheat
is composed. The action of the land is a chemical process, which
so modifies the material that it multiplies it by destroying
it. The soil is then a producer of utility; and when it [the
soil?] asks its pay in the form of profit, or farm rent, for
its proprietor, it at the same time gives something to the consumer
in exchange for the amount which the consumer pays it. It gives
him a produced utility; and it is the production of this utility
which warrants us in calling land productive, as well as labor."
Let us clear up this matter.
The blacksmith who
manufactures for the farmer implements of husbandry, the wheelwright
who makes him a cart, the mason who
builds his barn, the carpenter, the basket-maker, &c., — all
of whom contribute to agricultural production by the tools which
they provide, — are producers of utility; consequently, they are
entitled to a part of the products.
the land also is an implement whose service must
be paid for, then. . . ."
I admit that the land is an implement; but who made it? Did
the proprietor? Did he — by the efficacious virtue of the
right of property, by this moral quality infused into the soil — endow
it with vigor and fertility? Exactly there lies the monopoly
of the proprietor; in the fact that, though he did not make the
implement, he asks pay for its use. When the Creator shall present
himself and claim farm-rent, we will consider the matter with
him; or even when the proprietor — his pretended representative — shall
exhibit his power-of-attorney.
"The proprietor's service," adds Say, "is
easy, I admit."
It is a frank confession.
"But we cannot
disregard it. Without property, one farmer would contend with
another for the possession of a field without
a proprietor, and the field would remain uncultivated. . . ."
Then the proprietor's business is to reconcile farmers by robbing
them. O logic! O justice! O the marvellous wisdom of economists!
The proprietor, if they are right, is like Perrin- Dandin who,
when summoned by two travellers to settle a dispute about an
oyster, opened it, gobbled it, and said to them: —
"The Court awards
you each a shell."
Could any thing worse be said of property?
Will Say tell us why the same farmers, who, if there were no
proprietors, would contend with each other for possession of
the soil, do not contend to-day with the proprietors for this
possession? Obviously, because they think them legitimate possessors,
and because their respect for even an imaginary right exceeds
their avarice. I proved, in Chapter II., that possession is sufficient,
without property, to maintain social order. Would it be more
difficult, then, to reconcile possessors without masters than
tenants controlled by proprietors? Would laboring men, who respect — much
to their own detriment — the pretended rights of the idler, violate
the natural rights of the producer and the manufacturer? What!
if the husbandman forfeited his right to the land as soon as
he ceased to occupy it, would he become more covetous? And would
the impossibility of demanding increase, of taxing another's
labor, be a source of quarrels and law-suits? The economists
use singular logic. But we are not yet through. Admit that the
proprietor is the legitimate master of the land.
"The land is an instrument of production," they say.
That is true. But when, changing the noun into an adjective,
they alter the phrase, thus, "The land is a productive instrument," they
make a wicked blunder.
to Quesnay and the early economists, all production comes from
the land. Smith, Ricardo, and de Tracy, on the contrary,
say that labor is the sole agent of production. Say, and most
of his successors, teach that both land and labor
and capital are productive. The latter constitute the
political economy. The truth is, that neither land nor labor
nor capital is productive. Production results from the co-operation
of these three equally necessary elements, which, taken separately,
are equally sterile.
Political economy, indeed, treats of the production, distribution,
and consumption of wealth or values. But of what values? Of the
values produced by human industry; that is, of the changes made
in matter by man, that he may appropriate it to his own use,
and not at all of Nature's spontaneous productions. Man's labor
consists in a simple laying on of hands. When he has taken that
trouble, he has produced a value. Until then, the salt of the
sea, the water of the springs, the grass of the fields, and the
trees of the forests are to him as if they were not. The sea,
without the fisherman and his line, supplies no fish. The forest,
without the wood-cutter and his axe, furnishes neither fuel nor
timber. The meadow, without the mower, yields neither hay nor
aftermath. Nature is a vast mass of material to be cultivated
and converted into products; but Nature produces nothing for
herself: in the economical sense, her products, in their relation
to man, are not yet products.
Capital, tools, and
machinery are likewise unproductive. The hammer and the anvil,
without the blacksmith and the iron, do
not forge. The mill, without the miller and the grain, does not
grind, &c. Bring tools and raw material together; place a
plough and some seed on fertile soil; enter a smithy, light the
fire, and shut up the shop, — you will produce nothing. The following
remark was made by an economist who possessed more good sense
than most of his fellows: "Say credits capital with an active
part unwarranted by its nature; left to itself, it is an idle
tool." (J. Droz: Political Economy.)
Finally, labor and capital together, when unfortunately combined,
produce nothing. Plough a sandy desert, beat the water of the
rivers, pass type through a sieve, — you will get neither wheat,
nor fish, nor books. Your trouble will be as fruitless as was
the immense labor of the army of Xerxes; who, as Herodotus says,
with his three million soldiers, scourged the Hellespont for
twenty-four hours, as a punishment for having broken and scattered
the pontoon bridge which the great king had thrown across it.
Tools and capital, land and labor, considered individually and
abstractly, are not, literally speaking, productive. The proprietor
who asks to be rewarded for the use of a tool, or the productive
power of his land, takes for granted, then, that which is radically
false; namely, that capital produces by its own effort, — and,
in taking pay for this imaginary product, he literally receives
something for nothing.
Objection. — But if the blacksmith, the wheelwright, all manufacturers
in short, have a right to the products in return for the implements
which they furnish; and if land is an implement of production, — why
does not this implement entitle its proprietor, be his claim
real or imaginary, to a portion of the products; as in the case
of the manufacturers of ploughs and wagons?
Reply. — Here we touch the heart of the question, the mystery
of property; which we must clear up, if we would understand any
thing of the strange effects of the right of increase.
He who manufactures
or repairs the farmer's tools receives the price once, either
at the time of delivery, or in several payments;
and when this price is once paid to the manufacturer, the tools
which he has delivered belong to him no more. Never does he claim
double payment for the same tool, or the same job of repairs.
If he annually shares in the products of the farmer, it is owing
to the fact that he annually makes something for the farmer.
The proprietor, on the contrary, does not yield his implement;
eternally he is paid for it, eternally he keeps it.
In fact, the rent received by the proprietor is not intended
to defray the expense of maintaining and repairing the implement;
this expense is charged to the borrower, and does not concern
the proprietor except as he is interested in the preservation
of the article. If he takes it upon himself to attend to the
repairs, he takes care that the money which he expends for this
purpose is repaid.
This rent does not represent the product of the implement, since
of itself the implement produces nothing; we have just proved
this, and we shall prove it more clearly still by its consequences.
Finally, this rent does not represent the participation of the
proprietor in the production; since this participation could
consist, like that of the blacksmith and the wheelwright, only
in the surrender of the whole or a part of his implement, in
which case he would cease to be its proprietor, which would involve
a contradiction of the idea of property.
the proprietor and his tenant there is no exchange either of
values or services; then, as our axiom says, farm-rent
is real increase, — an extortion based solely upon fraud
and violence on the one hand, and weakness and ignorance upon
the other. Products say the economists, are bought only by products. This
maxim is property's condemnation. The proprietor, producing neither
his own labor nor by his implement, and receiving products in
exchange for nothing, is either a parasite or a thief. Then,
if property can exist only as a right, property is impossible.
constitution of 1793, which defined property as "the right to enjoy the fruit of one's
labor," was grossly mistaken. It should have said, "Property
is the right to enjoy and dispose at will of another's goods, — the
fruit of another's industry and labor."
possessor of lands, houses, furniture, machinery, tools,
who lends a thing for a price exceeding the cost of repairs
(the repairs being charged to the lender, and representing
products which he exchanges for other products), is guilty of
swindling and extortion. In short, all rent received (nominally
as damages, but really as payment for a loan) is an act of property, — a
Comment. — The
tax which a victorious nation levies upon a conquered nation
is genuine farm-rent. The seigniorial
rights abolished by the Revolution of 1789, — tithes, mortmain,
statute-labor, &c., — were different forms of the rights of
property; and they who under the titles of nobles, seigneurs,
prebendaries, &c. enjoyed these rights, were neither more
nor less than proprietors. To defend property to- day is to condemn
is impossible because wherever it exists
more than it is worth.
The preceding proposition was legislative in its nature; this
one is economical. It serves to prove that property, which originates
in violence, results in waste.
"Production," says Say, "is
exchange on a large scale. To render the exchange productive
the value of the whole
amount of service must be balanced by the value of the product.
If this condition is not complied with, the exchange is unequal;
the producer gives more than he receives."
Now, value being necessarily based upon utility, it follows
that every useless product is necessarily valueless, — that it
cannot be exchanged; and, consequently, that it cannot be given
in payment for productive services.
Then, though production may equal consumption, it never can
exceed it; for there is no real production save where there is
a production of utility, and there is no utility save where there
is a possibility of consumption. Thus, so much of every product
as is rendered by excessive abundance inconsumable, becomes useless,
valueless, unexchangeable, — consequently, unfit to be given in
payment for any thing whatever, and is no longer a product.
Consumption, on the other hand, to be legitimate, — to be true
consumption, — must be reproductive of utility; for, if it is
unproductive, the products which it destroys are cancelled values — things
produced at a pure loss; a state of things which causes products
to depreciate in value. Man has the power to destroy, but he
consumes only that which he reproduces. Under a right system
of economy, there is then an equation between production and
These points established, let us suppose a community of one
thousand families, enclosed in a territory of a given circumference,
and deprived of foreign intercourse. Let this community represent
the human race, which, scattered over the face of the earth,
is really isolated. In fact, the difference between a community
and the human race being only a numerical one, the economical
results will be absolutely the same in each case.
Suppose, then, that these thousand families, devoting themselves
exclusively to wheat-culture, are obliged to pay to one hundred
individuals, chosen from the mass, an annual revenue of ten per
cent. on their product. It is clear that, in such a case, the
right of increase is equivalent to a tax levied in advance upon
social production. Of what use is this tax?
It cannot be levied to supply the community with provisions,
for between that and farm-rent there is nothing in common; nor
to pay for services and products, — for the proprietors, laboring
like the others, have labored only for themselves. Finally, this
tax is of no use to its recipients who, having harvested wheat
enough for their own consumption, and not being able in a society
without commerce and manufactures to procure any thing else in
exchange for it, thereby lose the advantage of their income.
In such a society, one-tenth of the product being inconsumable,
one-tenth of the labor goes unpaid — production costs more than
it is worth.
Now, change three hundred of our wheat-producers into artisans
of all kinds: one hundred gardeners and wine-growers, sixty shoemakers
and tailors, fifty carpenters and blacksmiths, eighty of various
professions, and, that nothing may be lacking, seven school-masters,
one mayor, one judge, and one priest; each industry furnishes
the whole community with its special product. Now, the total
production being one thousand, each laborer's consumption is
one; namely, wheat, meat, and grain, 0.7; wine and vegetables,
0.1; shoes and clothing, 0.06; iron-work and furniture, 0.05;
sundries, 0.08; instruction, 0.007; administration, 0.002; mass,
0.001, Total 1.
But the community owes a revenue of ten per cent.; and it matters
little whether the farmers alone pay it, or all the laborers
are responsible for it, — the result is the same. The farmer raises
the price of his products in proportion to his share of the debt;
the other laborers follow his example. Then, after some fluctuations,
equilibrium is established, and all pay nearly the same amount
of the revenue. It would be a grave error to assume that in a
nation none but farmers pay farm-rent — the whole nation pays
I say, then, that by this tax of ten per cent. each laborer's
consumption is reduced as follows: wheat, 0.63; wine and vegetables,
0.09; clothing and shoes, 0.054; furniture and iron- work, 0.045;
other products, 0.072; schooling, 0.0063; administration, 0.0018;
mass, 0.0009. Total 0.9.
The laborer has produced
1; he consumes only 0.9. He loses, then, one-tenth of the price
of his labor; his production still
costs more than it is worth. On the other hand, the tenth received
by the proprietors is no less a waste; for, being laborers themselves,
they, like the others, possess in the nine- tenths of their product
the wherewithal to live: they want for nothing. Why should they
wish their proportion of bread, wine, meat, clothes, shelter, &c.,
to be doubled, if they can neither consume nor exchange them?
Then farm-rent, with them as with the rest of the laborers, is
a waste, and perishes in their hands. Extend the hypothesis,
increase the number and variety of the products, you still have
the same result.
Hitherto, we have considered the proprietor as taking part in
the production, not only (as Say says) by the use of his instrument,
but in an effective manner and by the labor of his hands. Now,
it is easy to see that, under such circumstances, property will
never exist. What happens?
The proprietor — an essentially libidinous animal, without virtue
or shame — is not satisfied with an orderly and disciplined life.
He loves property, because it enables him to do at leisure what
he pleases and when he pleases. Having obtained the means of
life, he gives himself up to trivialities and indolence; he enjoys,
he fritters away his time, he goes in quest of curiosities and
novel sensations. Property — to enjoy itself — has to abandon ordinary
life, and busy itself in luxurious occupations and unclean enjoyments.
Instead of giving up a farm-rent, which is perishing in their
hands, and thus lightening the labor of the community, our hundred
proprietors prefer to rest. In consequence of this withdrawal, — the
absolute production being diminished by one hundred, while the
consumption remains the same, — production and consumption seem
to balance. But, in the first place, since the proprietors no
longer labor, their consumption is, according to economical principles,
unproductive; consequently, the previous condition of the community — when
the labor of one hundred was rewarded by no products — is superseded
by one in which the products of one hundred are consumed without
labor. The deficit is always the same, whichever the column of
the account in which it is expressed. Either the maxims of political
economy are false, or else property, which contradicts them,
The economists — regarding all unproductive consumption as an
evil, as a robbery of the human race — never fail to exhort
proprietors to moderation, labor, and economy; they preach to
them the necessity
of making themselves useful, of remunerating production for that
which they receive from it; they launch the most terrible curses
against luxury and laziness. Very beautiful morality, surely;
it is a pity that it lacks common sense. The proprietor who labors,
or, as the economists say, who makes himself useful, is
paid for this labor and utility; is he, therefore, any the less
as concerns the property which he does not use, and from which
he receives an income? His condition, whatever he may do, is
an unproductive and felonious one; he cannot cease to waste and
destroy without ceasing to be a proprietor.
But this is only the least of the evils which property engenders.
Society has to maintain some idle people, whether or no. It
will always have the blind, the maimed, the insane, and the idiotic.
It can easily support a few sluggards. At this point, the impossibilities
thicken and become complicated.
is impossible, because, with a given capital,
proportional to labor, not to property.
To pay a farm-rent of one hundred at the rate of ten per cent.
of the product, the product must be one thousand; that the product
may be one thousand, a force of one thousand laborers is needed.
It follows, that in granting a furlough, as we have just done,
to our one hundred laborer-proprietors, all of whom had an equal
right to lead the life of men of income, — we have placed ourselves
in a position where we are unable to pay their revenues. In fact,
the productive power, which at first was one thousand, being
now but nine hundred, the production is also reduced to nine
hundred, one-tenth of which is ninety. Either, then, ten proprietors
out of the one hundred cannot be paid, — provided the remaining
ninety are to get the whole amount of their farm-rent, — or else
all must consent to a decrease of ten per cent. For it is not
for the laborer, who has been wanting in no particular, who has
produced as in the past, to suffer by the withdrawal of the proprietor.
The latter must take the consequences of his own idleness. But,
then, the proprietor becomes poorer for the very reason that
he wishes to enjoy; by exercising his right, he loses it; so
that property seems to decrease and vanish in proportion as we
try to lay hold of it, — the more we pursue it, the more it eludes
our grasp. What sort of a right is that which is governed by
numerical relations, and which an arithmetical calculation can
received, first, as laborer, 0.9 in wages; second, as proprietor,
1 in farm-rent. He said to himself, "My
farm-rent is sufficient; I have enough and to spare without my
labor." And thus it is that the income upon which he calculated
gets diminished by one-tenth, — he at the same time not even suspecting
the cause of this diminution. By taking part in the production,
he was himself the creator of this tenth which has vanished;
and while he thought to labor only for himself, he unwittingly
suffered a loss in exchanging his products, by which he was made
to pay to himself one-tenth of his own farm-rent. Like every
one else, he produced 1, and received but 0.9
of nine hundred laborers, there had been but five hundred,
the whole amount of farm-rent would have been reduced
to fifty; if there had been but one hundred, it would have fallen
to ten. We may posit, then, the following axiom as a law of proprietary
economy: Increase must diminish as the number of idlers augments.
result will lead us to another more surprising still. Its effect
is to deliver us at one blow from all the evils
of property, without abolishing it, without wronging proprietors,
and by a highly conservative process.
We have just proved
that, if the farm-rent in a community of one thousand laborers
is one hundred, that of nine hundred would
be ninety, that of eight hundred, eighty, that of one hundred,
ten, &c. So that, in a community where there was but one
laborer, the farm-rent would be but 0.1; no matter how great
the extent and value of the land appropriated. Therefore, with
a given landed capital, production is proportional to labor,
not to property.
Guided by this principle, let us try to ascertain the maximum
increase of all property whatever.
What is, essentially, a farm-lease? It is a contract by which
the proprietor yields to a tenant possession of his land, in
consideration of a portion of that which it yields him, the proprietor.
If, in consequence of an increase in his household, the tenant
becomes ten times as strong as the proprietor, he will produce
ten times as much. Would the proprietor in such a case be justified
in raising the farm-rent tenfold? His right is not, The more
you produce, the more I demand. It is, The more I sacrifice,
the more I demand. The increase in the tenant's household, the
number of hands at his disposal, the resources of his industry, — all
these serve to increase production, but bear no relation to the
proprietor. His claims are to be measured by his own productive
capacity, not that of others. Property is the right of increase,
not a poll-tax. How could a man, hardly capable of cultivating
even a few acres by himself, demand of a community, on the ground
of its use of ten thousand acres of his property, ten thousand
times as much as he is incapable of producing from one acre?
Why should the price of a loan be governed by the skill and strength
of the borrower, rather than by the utility sacrificed by the
proprietor? We must recognize, then, this second economical law: Increase
is measured by a fraction of the proprietors production.
Now, this production, what is it? In other words, What can the
lord and master of a piece of land justly claim to have sacrificed
in lending it to a tenant?
The productive capacity of a proprietor, like that of any laborer,
being one, the product which he sacrifices in surrendering his
land is also one. If, then, the rate of increase is ten per cent.,
the maximum increase is 0.1.
But we have
seen that, whenever a proprietor withdraws from production,
the amount of products is lessened by 1. Then the
increase which accrues to him, being equal to 0.1 while he remains
among the laborers, will be equal after his withdrawal, by the
law of the decrease of farm-rent, to 0.09. Thus we are led to
this final formula: The maximum income of a proprietor is
equal to the square root of the product of one laborer (some
number being agreed upon to express this product). The diminution
which this income suffers, if the proprietor is idle, is equal
to a fraction whose numerator is 1, and whose denominator is
the number which expresses the product.
Thus the maximum income of an idle proprietor, or of one who
labors in his own behalf outside of the community, figured at
ten per cent. on an average production of one thousand francs
per laborer, would be ninety francs. If, then, there are in France
one million proprietors with an income of one thousand francs
each, which they consume unproductively, instead of the one thousand
millions which are paid them annually, they are entitled in strict
justice, and by the most accurate calculation, to ninety millions
It is something of a reduction, to take nine hundred and ten
millions from the burdens which weigh so heavily upon the laboring
class! Nevertheless, the account is not finished, and the laborer
is still ignorant of the full extent of his rights.
What is the right of increase when confined within just limits?
A recognition of the right of occupancy. But since all have an
equal right of occupancy, every man is by the same title a proprietor.
Every man has a right to an income equal to a fraction of his
product. If, then, the laborer is obliged by the right of property
to pay a rent to the proprietor, the proprietor is obliged by
the same right to pay the same amount of rent to the laborer;
and, since their rights balance each other, the difference between
them is zero.
Scholium. — If farm-rent is only a fraction of the supposed
product of the proprietor, whatever the amount and value of the
property, the same is true in the case of a large number of small
and distinct proprietors. For, although one man may use the property
of each separately, he cannot use the property of all at the
To sum up. The right of increase, which can exist only within
very narrow limits, defined by the laws of production, is annihilated
by the right of occupancy. Now, without the right of increase,
there is no property. Then property is impossible.
Property is impossible, because it is Homicide.
If the right
of increase could be subjected to the laws of reason and justice,
be reduced to an indemnity or reward whose
maximum never could exceed, for a single laborer, a certain fraction
of that which he is capable of producing. This we have just shown.
But why should the right of increase — let us not fear to call
it by its right name, the right of robbery — be governed by reason,
with which it has nothing in common? The proprietor is not content
with the increase allotted him by good sense and the nature of
things: he demands ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times,
a million times as much. By his own labor, his property would
yield him a product equal only to one; and he demands of society,
no longer a right proportional to his productive capacity, but
a per capita tax. He taxes his fellows in proportion to their
strength, their number, and their industry. A son is born to
a farmer. "Good!" says the proprietor; "one more
chance for increase!" By what process has farm-rent been
thus changed into a poll-tax? Why have our jurists and our theologians
failed, with all their shrewdness, to check the extension of
the right of increase?
The proprietor, having
estimated from his own productive capacity the number of laborers
which his property will accommodate, divides
it into as many portions, and says: "Each one shall yield
me revenue." To increase his income, he has only to divide
his property. Instead of reckoning the interest due him on his
labor, he reckons it on his capital; and, by this substitution,
the same property, which in the hands of its owner is capable
of yielding only one, is worth to him ten, a hundred, a thousand,
a million. Consequently, he has only to hold himself in readiness
to register the names of the laborers who apply to him — his task
consists in drafting leases and receipts.
Not satisfied with the lightness of his duties, the proprietor
does not intend to bear even the deficit resulting from his idleness;
he throws it upon the shoulders of the producer, of whom he always
demands the same reward. When the farm-rent of a piece of land
is once raised to its highest point, the proprietor never lowers
it; high prices, the scarcity of labor, the disadvantages of
the season, even pestilence itself, have no effect upon him — why
should he suffer from hard times when he does not labor?
Here commences a new series of phenomena.
Say — who reasons with marvellous clearness whenever he assails
taxation, but who is blind to the fact that the proprietor, as
well as the tax-gatherer, steals from the tenant, and in the
same manner — says in his second letter to Malthus: —
"If the collector
of taxes and those who employ him consume one- sixth of the
products, they thereby compel the producers
to feed, clothe, and support themselves on five-sixths of what
they produce. They admit this, but say at the same time that
it is possible for each one to live on five-sixths of what he
I admit that, if
they insist upon it; but I ask if they believe that the producer
would live as well, in case they demanded of
him, instead of one-sixth, two-sixths, or one-third, of their
products? No; but he would still live. Then I ask whether he
would still live, in case they should rob him of two- thirds,
. . . then three-quarters? But I hear no reply."
If the master of the French economists had been less blinded
by his proprietary prejudices, he would have seen that farm-rent
has precisely the same effect.
Take a family of peasants composed of six persons, — father,
mother, and four children, — living in the country, and cultivating
a small piece of ground. Let us suppose that by hard labor they
manage, as the saying is, to make both ends meet; that, having
lodged, warmed, clothed, and fed themselves, they are clear of
debt, but have laid up nothing. Taking the years together, they
contrive to live. If the year is prosperous, the father drinks
a little more wine, the daughters buy themselves a dress, the
sons a hat; they eat a little cheese, and, occasionally, some
meat. I say that these people are on the road to wreck and ruin.
For, by the third corollary of our axiom, they owe to themselves
the interest on their own capital. Estimating this capital at
only eight thousand francs at two and a half per cent., there
is an annual interest of two hundred francs to be paid. If, then,
these two hundred francs, instead of being subtracted from the
gross product to be saved and capitalized, are consumed, there
is an annual deficit of two hundred francs in the family assets;
so that at the end of forty years these good people, without
suspecting it, will have eaten up their property and become bankrupt!
This result seems ridiculous — it is a sad reality.
The conscription comes. What is the conscription? An act of
property exercised over families by the government without warning — a
robbery of men and money. The peasants do not like to part with
their sons, — in that I do not think them wrong. It is hard for
a young man of twenty to gain any thing by life in the barracks;
unless he is depraved, he detests it. You can generally judge
of a soldier's morality by his hatred of his uniform. Unfortunate
wretches or worthless scamps, — such is the make-up of the French
army. This ought not to be the case, — but so it is. Question
a hundred thousand men, and not one will contradict my assertion.
Our peasant, in redeeming his two conscripted sons, expends
four thousand francs, which he borrows for that purpose; the
interest on this, at five per cent., is two hundred francs; — a
sum equal to that referred to above. If, up to this time, the
production of the family, constantly balanced by its consumption,
has been one thousand two hundred francs, or two hundred francs
per persons — in order to pay this interest, either the six laborers
must produce as much as seven, or must consume as little as five.
Curtail consumption they cannot — how can they curtail necessity?
To produce more is impossible; they can work neither harder nor
longer. Shall they take a middle course, and consume five and
a half while producing six and a half? They would soon find that
with the stomach there is no compromise — that beyond a certain
degree of abstinence it is impossible to go — that strict necessity
can be curtailed but little without injury to the health; and,
as for increasing the product, — there comes a storm, a drought,
an epizootic, and all the hopes of the farmer are dashed. In
short, the rent will not be paid, the interest will accumulate,
the farm will be seized, and the possessor ejected.
Thus a family, which lived in prosperity while it abstained
from exercising the right of property, falls into misery as soon
as the exercise of this right becomes a necessity. Property requires
of the husbandman the double power of enlarging his land, and
fertilizing it by a simple command. While a man is simply possessor
of the land, he finds in it means of subsistence; as soon as
he pretends to proprietorship, it suffices him no longer. Being
able to produce only that which he consumes, the fruit of his
labor is his recompense for his trouble — nothing is left for
Required to pay what he cannot produce, — such is the condition
of the tenant after the proprietor has retired from social production
in order to speculate upon the labor of others by new methods.
Let us now return to our first hypothesis.
hundred laborers, sure that their future production will equal
that of the past, are quite surprised, after paying
their farm-rent, to find themselves poorer by one-tenth than
they were the previous year. In fact, this tenth — which
was formerly produced and paid by the proprietor-laborer who
then took part
in the production, and paid part of the — public expenses — now
has not been produced, and has been paid. It must then have been
taken from the producer's consumption. To choke this inexplicable
deficit, the laborer borrows, confident of his intention and
ability to return, — a confidence which is shaken the following
year by a new loan, plus the interest on the first. From whom
does he borrow? From the proprietor. The proprietor lends his
surplus to the laborer; and this surplus, which he ought to return,
becomes — being lent at interest — a new source of
profit to him. Then debts increase indefinitely; the proprietor
to the producer who never returns them; and the latter, constantly
robbed and constantly borrowing from the robbers, ends in bankruptcy,
defrauded of all that he had.
Suppose that the proprietor — who needs his tenant to furnish
him with an income — then releases him from his debts. He will
thus do a very benevolent deed, which will procure for him a
recommendation in the curate's prayers; while the poor tenant,
overwhelmed by this unstinted charity, and taught by his catechism
to pray for his benefactors, will promise to redouble his energy,
and suffer new hardships that he may discharge his debt to so
kind a master.
This time he takes
precautionary measures; he raises the price of grains. The
manufacturer does the same with his products.
The reaction comes, and, after some fluctuation, the farm-rent — which
the tenant thought to put upon the manufacturer's shoulders — becomes
nearly balanced. So that, while he is congratulating himself
upon his success, he finds himself again impoverished, but to
an extent somewhat smaller than before. For the rise having been
general, the proprietor suffers with the rest; so that the laborers,
instead of being poorer by one-tenth, lose only nine-hundredths.
But always it is a debt which necessitates a loan, the payment
of interest, economy, and fasting. Fasting for the nine-hundredths
which ought not to be paid, and are paid; fasting for the redemption
of debts; fasting to pay the interest on them. Let the crop fail,
and the fasting becomes starvation. They say, "It is
necessary to work more." That means, obviously, that
it is necessary to produce more. By what conditions is production
effected? By the combined action of labor, capital, and land.
As for the labor,
the tenant undertakes to furnish it; but capital is formed only
by economy. Now, if the tenant could accumulate any thing, he
would pay his debts. But granting that he has plenty of capital,
of what use would it be to him if the extent of the land which
he cultivates always remained the same? He needs to enlarge his
Will it be said, finally, that he must work harder and to better
advantage? But, in our estimation of farm-rent, we have assumed
the highest possible average of production. Were it not the highest,
the proprietor would increase the farm-rent. Is not this the
way in which the large landed proprietors have gradually raised
their rents, as fast as they have ascertained by the increase
in population and the development of industry how much society
can produce from their property? The proprietor is a foreigner
to society; but, like the vulture, his eyes fixed upon his prey,
he holds himself ready to pounce upon and devour it.
The facts to which we have called attention, in a community
of one thousand persons, are reproduced on a large scale in every
nation and wherever human beings live, but with infinite variations
and in innumerable forms, which it is no part of my intention
In fine, property — after having robbed the laborer by usury —
murders him slowly by starvation. Now, without robbery and murder,
property cannot exist; with robbery and murder, it soon dies
for want of support. Therefore it is impossible.
Property is impossible, because, if it exists, Society devours
When the ass is too heavily loaded, he lies down; man always
moves on. Upon this indomitable courage, the proprietor — well
knowing that it exists — bases his hopes of speculation. The free
laborer produces ten; for me, thinks the proprietor, he will
Indeed, — before consenting to the confiscation of his fields,
before bidding farewell to the paternal roof, — the peasant, whose
story we have just told, makes a desperate effort; he leases
new land; he will sow one-third more; and, taking half of this
new product for himself, he will harvest an additional sixth,
and thereby pay his rent. What an evil! To add one-sixth to his
production, the farmer must add, not one-sixth, but two-sixths
to his labor. At such a price, he pays a farm-rent which in God's
eyes he does not owe.
The tenant's example is followed by the manufacturer. The former
tills more land, and dispossesses his neighbors; the latter lowers
the price of his merchandise, and endeavors to monopolize its
manufacture and sale, and to crush out his competitors. To satisfy
property, the laborer must first produce beyond his needs. Then,
he must produce beyond his strength; for, by the withdrawal of
laborers who become proprietors, the one always follows from
the other. But to produce beyond his strength and needs, he must
invade the production of another, and consequently diminish the
number of producers. Thus the proprietor — after having lessened
production by stepping outside — lessens it still further by encouraging
the monopoly of labor. Let us calculate it.
The laborer's deficit, after paying his rent, being, as we have
seen, one-tenth, he tries to increase his production by this
amount. He sees no way of accomplishing this save by increasing
his labor: this also he does. The discontent of the proprietors
who have not received the full amount of their rent; the advantageous
offers and promises made them by other farmers, whom they suppose
more diligent, more industrious, and more reliable; the secret
plots and intrigues, — all these give rise to a movement for the
re-division of labor, and the elimination of a certain number
of producers. Out of nine hundred, ninety will be ejected, that
the production of the others may be increased one- tenth. But
will the total product be increased? Not in the least: there
will be eight hundred and ten laborers producing as nine hundred,
while, to accomplish their purpose, they would have to produce
as one thousand. Now, it having been proved that farm-rent is
proportional to the landed capital instead of to labor, and that
it never diminishes, the debts must continue as in the past,
while the labor has increased. Here, then, we have a society
which is continually decimating itself, and which would destroy
itself, did not the periodical occurrence of failures, bankruptcies,
and political and economical catastrophes re-establish equilibrium,
and distract attention from the real causes of the universal
The monopoly of land
and capital is followed by economical processes which also
result in throwing laborers out of employment. Interest
being a constant burden upon the shoulders of the farmer and
the manufacturer, they exclaim, each speaking for himself, "I
should have the means wherewith to pay my rent and interest,
had I not to pay so many hands." Then those admirable inventions,
intended to assure the easy and speedy performance of labor,
become so many infernal machines which kill laborers by thousands.
"A few years ago, the Countess of Strafford ejected fifteen
thousand persons from her estate, who, as tenants, added to its
value. This act of private administration was repeated in 1820,
by another large Scotch proprietor, towards six hundred tenants
and their families." — Tissot: on Suicide and
author whom I quote, and who has written eloquent words concerning
the revolutionary spirit which prevails in modern
society, does not say whether he would have disapproved of a
revolt on the part of these exiles. For myself, I avow boldly
that in my eyes it would have been the first of rights, and the
holiest of duties; and all that I desire to-day is that my profession
of faith be understood.
Society devours itself, — 1. By the violent and periodical sacrifice
of laborers: this we have just seen, and shall see again; 2.
By the stoppage of the producer's consumption caused by property.
These two modes of suicide are at first simultaneous; but soon
the first is given additional force by the second, famine uniting
with usury to render labor at once more necessary and more scarce.
By the principles of commerce and political economy, that an
industrial enterprise may be successful, its product must furnish, — 1.
The interest on the capital employed; 2. Means for the preservation
of this capital; 3. The wages of all the employees and contractors.
Further, as large a profit as possible must be realized.
The financial shrewdness and rapacity of property is worthy
of admiration. Each different name which increase takes affords
the proprietor an opportunity to receive it, — 1. In the form
of interest; 2. In the form of profit. For, it says, a part of
the income derived from manufactures consists of interest on
the capital employed. If one hundred thousand francs have been
invested in a manufacturing enterprise, and in a year's time
five thousand francs have been received therefrom in addition
to the expenses, there has been no profit, but only interest
on the capital. Now, the proprietor is not a man to labor for
nothing. Like the lion in the fable, he gets paid in each of
his capacities; so that, after he has been served, nothing is
left for his associates.
tollo, nominor quia leo.
Secundam quia sum fortis tribuctis
Tum quia plus valeo, me sequetur tertia.
adficietur, si quis quartam tetigerit.
I know nothing prettier than this fable.
am the contractor,
take the first share.
I am the laborer, I take the second.
I am the capitalist, I take the third.
I am the proprietor, I take the whole."
In four lines, Phaedrus has summed up all the forms of property.
I say that this interest, all the more then this profit, is
What are laborers in relation to each other? So many members
of a large industrial society, to each of whom is assigned a
certain portion of the general production, by the principle of
the division of labor and functions. Suppose, first, that this
society is composed of but three individuals, — a cattle-raiser,
a tanner, and a shoemaker. The social industry, then, is that
of shoemaking. If I should ask what ought to be each producer's
share of the social product, the first schoolboy whom I should
meet would answer, by a rule of commerce and association, that
it should be one-third. But it is not our duty here to balance
the rights of laborers conventionally associated: we have to
prove that, whether associated or not, our three workers are
obliged to act as if they were; that, whether they will or no,
they are associated by the force of things, by mathematical necessity.
Three processes are required in the manufacture of shoes, — the
rearing of cattle, the preparation of their hides, and the cutting
and sewing. If the hide, on leaving the farmer's stable, is worth
one, it is worth two on leaving the tanner's pit, and three on
leaving the shoemaker's shop. Each laborer has produced a portion
of the utility; so that, by adding all these portions together,
we get the value of the article. To obtain any quantity whatever
of this article, each producer must pay, then, first for his
own labor, and second for the labor of the other producers. Thus,
to obtain as many shoes as can be made from ten hides, the farmer
will give thirty raw hides, and the tanner twenty tanned hides.
For, the shoes that are made from ten hides are worth thirty
raw hides, in consequence of the extra labor bestowed upon them;
just as twenty tanned hides are worth thirty raw hides, on account
of the tanner's labor. But if the shoemaker demands thirty-three
in the farmer's product, or twenty-two in the tanner's, for ten
in his own, there will be no exchange; for, if there were, the
farmer and the tanner, after having paid the shoemaker ten for
his labor, would have to pay eleven for that which they had themselves
sold for ten, — which, of course, would be impossible.1
is precisely what happens whenever an emolument of any kind
is received; be it called revenue, farm-rent, interest,
or profit. In the little community of which we are speaking,
if the shoemaker — in order to procure tools, buy a stock of leather,
and support himself until he receives something from his investment — borrows
money at interest, it is clear that to pay this interest he will
have to make a profit off the tanner and the farmer.
But as this profit is impossible unless fraud is used, the interest
will fall back upon the shoulders of the unfortunate shoemaker,
and ruin him.
I have imagined a case of unnatural simplicity. There is no
human society but sustains more than three vocations. The most
uncivilized society supports numerous industries; to-day, the
number of industrial functions (I mean by industrial functions
all useful functions) exceeds, perhaps, a thousand. However numerous
the occupations, the economic law remains the same, — That
the producer may live, his wages must repurchase his product.
cannot be ignorant of this rudimentary principle of their pretended
science: why, then, do they so obstinately
defend property, and inequality of wages, and the legitimacy
of usury, and the honesty of profit, — all of which contradict
the economic law, and make exchange impossible? A contractor
pays one hundred thousand francs for raw material, fifty thousand
francs in wages, and then expects to receive a product of two
hundred thousand francs, — that is, expects to make a profit on
the material and on the labor of his employees; but if the laborers
and the purveyor of the material cannot, with their combined
wages, repurchase that which they have produced for the contractor,
how can they live? I will develop my question. Here details become
If the workingman
receives for his labor an average of three francs per day,
his employer (in order to gain any thing beyond
his own salary, if only interest on his capital) must sell the
day's labor of his employee, in the form of merchandise, for
more than three francs. The workingman cannot, then, repurchase
that which he has produced for his master. It is thus with all
trades whatsoever. The tailor, the hatter, the cabinet-maker,
the blacksmith, the tanner, the mason, the jeweller, the printer,
the clerk, &c., even to the farmer and wine-grower, cannot
repurchase their products; since, producing for a master who
in one form or another makes a profit, they are obliged to pay
more for their own labor than they get for it.
In France, twenty millions of laborers, engaged in all the branches
of science, art, and industry, produce every thing which is useful
to man. Their annual wages amount, it is estimated. to twenty
thousand millions; but, in consequence of the right of property,
and the multifarious forms of increase, premiums, tithes, interests,
fines, profits, farm-rents, house-rents, revenues, emoluments
of every nature and description, their products are estimated
by the proprietors and employers at twenty-five thousand millions.
What does that signify? That the laborers, who are obliged to
repurchase these products in order to live, must either pay five
for that which they produced for four, or fast one day in five.
If there is an economist in France able to show that this calculation
is false, I summon him to appear; and I promise to retract all
that I have wrongfully and wickedly uttered in my attacks upon
Let us now look at the results of this profit.
If the wages of the workingmen were the same in all pursuits,
the deficit caused by the proprietor's tax would be felt equally
everywhere; but also the cause of the evil would be so apparent,
that it would soon be discovered and suppressed. But, as there
is the same inequality of wages (from that of the scavenger up
to that of the minister of state) as of property, robbery continually
rebounds from the stronger to the weaker; so that, since the
laborer finds his hardships increase as he descends in the social
scale, the lowest class of people are literally stripped naked
and eaten alive by the others.
The laboring people
can buy neither the cloth which they weave, nor the furniture
which they manufacture, nor the metal which
they forge, nor the jewels which they cut, nor the prints which
they engrave. They can procure neither the wheat which they plant,
nor the wine which they grow, nor the flesh of the animals which
they raise. They are allowed neither to dwell in the houses which
they build, nor to attend the plays which their labor supports,
nor to enjoy the rest which their body requires. And why? Because
the right of increase does not permit these things to be sold
at the cost-price, which is all that laborers can afford to pay.
On the signs of those magnificent warehouses which he in his
poverty admires, the laborer reads in large letters: "This
is thy work, and thou shalt not have it." Sic vos non
Every manufacturer who employs one thousand laborers, and gains
from them daily one sou each, is slowly pushing them into a state
of misery. Every man who makes a profit has entered into a conspiracy
with famine. But the whole nation has not even this labor, by
means of which property starves it. And why? Because the workers
are forced by the insufficiency of their wages to monopolize
labor; and because, before being destroyed by dearth, they destroy
each other by competition. Let us pursue this truth no further.
If the laborer's wages will not purchase his product, it follows
that the product is not made for the producer. For whom, then,
is it intended? For the richer consumer; that is, for only a
fraction of society. But when the whole society labors, it produces
for the whole society. If, then, only a part of society consumes,
sooner or later a part of society will be idle. Now, idleness
is death, as well for the laborer as for the proprietor.
This conclusion is inevitable.
The most distressing spectacle imaginable is the sight of producers
resisting and struggling against this mathematical necessity,
this power of figures to which their prejudices blind them.
If one hundred thousand printers can furnish reading-matter
enough for thirty-four millions of men, and if the price of books
is so high that only one-third of that number can afford to buy
them, it is clear that these one hundred thousand printers will
produce three times as much as the booksellers can sell. That
the products of the laborers may never exceed the demands of
the consumers, the laborers must either rest two days out of
three, or, separating into three groups, relieve each other three
times a week, month, or quarter; that is, during two-thirds of
their life they must not live. But industry, under the influence
of property, does not proceed with such regularity. It endeavors
to produce a great deal in a short time, because the greater
the amount of products, and the shorter the time of production,
the less each product costs. As soon as a demand begins to be
felt, the factories fill up, and everybody goes to work. Then
business is lively, and both governors and governed rejoice.
But the more they work to-day, the more idle will they be hereafter;
the more they laugh, the more they shall weep. Under the rule
of property, the flowers of industry are woven into none but
funeral wreaths. The laborer digs his own grave.
If the factory stops running, the manufacturer has to pay interest
on his capital the same as before. He naturally tries, then,
to continue production by lessening expenses. Then comes the
lowering of wages; the introduction of machinery; the employment
of women and children to do the work of men; bad workmen, and
wretched work. They still produce, because the decreased cost
creates a larger market; but they do not produce long, because,
the cheapness being due to the quantity and rapidity of production,
the productive power tends more than ever to outstrip consumption.
It is when laborers, whose wages are scarcely sufficient to support
them from one day to another, are thrown out of work, that the
consequences of the principle of property become most frightful.
They have not been able to economize, they have made no savings,
they have accumulated no capital whatever to support them even
one day more. Today the factory is closed. To-morrow the people
starve in the streets. Day after tomorrow they will either die
in the hospital, or eat in the jail.
new misfortunes come to complicate this terrible situation.
In consequence of the cessation of business, and the extreme
cheapness of merchandise, the manufacturer finds it impossible
to pay the interest on his borrowed capital; whereupon his frightened
creditors hasten to withdraw their funds. Production is suspended,
and labor comes to a standstill. Then people are astonished to
see capital desert commerce, and throw itself upon the Stock
Exchange; and I once heard M. Blanqui bitterly lamenting the
blind ignorance of capitalists. The cause of this movement of
capital is very simple; but for that very reason an economist
could not understand it, or rather must not explain it. The cause
lies solely in competition.
I mean by competition, not only the rivalry between two parties
engaged in the same business, but the general and simultaneous
effort of all kinds of business to get ahead of each other. This
effort is to-day so strong, that the price of merchandise scarcely
covers the cost of production and distribution; so that, the
wages of all laborers being lessened, nothing remains, not even
interest for the capitalists.
The primary cause of commercial and industrial stagnations is,
then, interest on capital, — that interest which the ancients
with one accord branded with the name of usury, whenever it was
paid for the use of money, but which they did not dare to condemn
in the forms of house-rent, farm-rent, or profit: as if the nature
of the thing lent could ever warrant a charge for the lending;
that is, robbery.
In proportion to the increase received by the capitalist will
be the frequency and intensity of commercial crises, — the first
being given, we always can determine the two others; and vice
versa. Do you wish to know the regulator of a society? Ascertain
the amount of active capital; that is, the capital bearing interest,
and the legal rate of this interest. The course of events will
be a series of overturns, whose number and violence will be proportional
to the activity of capital.
In 1839, the number of failures in Paris alone was one thousand
and sixty-four. This proportion was kept up in the early months
of 1840; and, as I write these lines, the crisis is not yet ended.
It is said, further, that the number of houses which have wound
up their business is greater than the number of declared failures.
By this flood, we may judge of the waterspout's power of suction.
The decimation of society is now imperceptible and permanent,
now periodical and violent; it depends upon the course which
property takes. In a country where the property is pretty evenly
distributed, and where little business is done, — the rights and
claims of each being balanced by those of others, — the power
of invasion is destroyed. There — it may be truly said — property
does not exist, since the right of increase is scarcely exercised
at all. The condition of the laborers — as regards security of
life — is almost the same as if absolute equality prevailed among
them. They are deprived of all the advantages of full and free
association, but their existence is not endangered in the least.
With the exception of a few isolated victims of the right of
property — of this misfortune whose primary cause no one perceives — the
society appears to rest calmly in the bosom of this sort of equality.
But have a care; it is balanced on the edge of a sword: at the
slightest shock, it will fall and meet with death!
the whirlpool of property localizes itself. On the one hand,
farm-rent stops at a certain point; on the other, in
consequence of competition and over-production, the price of
manufactured goods does not rise, — so that the condition
of the peasant varies but little, and depends mainly on the seasons.
The devouring action of property bears, then, principally upon
business. We commonly say commercial crises, not agricultural
crises; because, while the farmer is eaten
up slowly by the right
of increase, the manufacturer is swallowed at a single mouthful.
This leads to the cessation of business, the destruction of fortunes,
and the inactivity of the working people; who die one after another
on the highways, and in the hospitals, prisons, and galleys.
To sum up this proposition: —
Property sells products to the laborer for more than it pays
him for them; therefore it is impossible.
APPENDIX TO THE FIFTH PROPOSITION.
I. Certain reformers,
and even the most of the publicists — who, though belonging
to no particular school, busy themselves in
devising means for the amelioration of the lot of the poorer
and more numerous class — lay much stress now-a-days on a better
organization of labor. The disciples of Fourier, especially,
never stop shouting, "On to the phalanx!" declaiming
in the same breath against the foolishness and absurdity of other
of half-a-dozen incomparable geniuses who have discovered that
five and four make nine; take two away, and nine remain, — and who weep over the blindness of France, who refuses
to believe in this astonishing arithmetic.2
the Fourierists proclaim themselves, on the one hand, defenders
of the right of increase, which they have
thus formulated: To each according to his capital, his labor,
and his skill. On the other hand, they wish the workingman
to come into the enjoyment of all the wealth of society; that
abridging the expression, — into the undivided enjoyment of his
own product. Is not this like saying to the workingman, "Labor,
you shall have three francs per day; you shall live on fifty-five
sous; you shall give the rest to the proprietor, and thus you
will consume three francs"?
If the above speech is not an exact epitome of Charles Fourier's
system, I will subscribe to the whole phalansterian folly with
a pen dipped in my own blood.
use is it to reform industry and agriculture, — of what
use, indeed, to labor at all, — if property is maintained,
and labor can never meet its expenses? Without the abolition
the organization of labor is neither more nor less than a delusion.
If production should be quadrupled, — a thing which does
not seem to me at all impossible, — it would be labor lost:
if the additional product was not consumed, it would be of no
and the proprietor
would decline to receive it as interest; if it was consumed,
all the disadvantages of property would reappear. It must be
confessed that the theory of passional attraction is gravely
at fault in this particular, and that Fourier, when he tried
to harmonize the passion for property, — a bad passion,
whatever he may say to the contrary, — blocked his own
The absurdity of
the phalansterian economy is so gross, that many people suspect
Fourier, in spite of all the homage paid
by him to proprietors, of having been a secret enemy of property.
This opinion might be supported by plausible arguments; still
it is not mine. Charlatanism was too important a part for such
a man to play, and sincerity too insignificant a one. I would
rather think Fourier ignorant (which is generally admitted) than
disingenuous. As for his disciples, before they can formulate
any opinion of their own, they must declare once for all, unequivocally
and with no mental reservation, whether they mean to maintain
property or not, and what they mean by their famous motto, — "To
each according to his capital, his labor, and his skill."
II. But, some half-converted
proprietor will observe, "Would
it not be possible, by suppressing the bank, incomes, farm-rent,
house-rent, usury of all kinds, and finally property itself,
to proportion products to capacities? That was St. Simon's idea;
it was also Fourier's; it is the desire of the human conscience;
and no decent person would dare maintain that a minister of state
should live no better than a peasant."
your ears are long! What! will you never understand that disparity
of wages and the right of increase are one and
the same? Certainly, St. Simon, Fourier, and their respective
flocks committed a serious blunder in attempting to unite, the
one, inequality and communism; the other, inequality and property:
but you, a man of figures, a man of economy, — you, who
know by heart your logarithmic tables, — how can you make
so stupid a mistake?
Does not political
economy itself teach you that the product of a man, whatever
be his individual capacity, is never worth
more than his labor, and that a man's labor is worth no more
than his consumption? You remind me of that great constitution-framer,
poor Pinheiro-Ferreira, the Sieyes of the nineteenth century,
who, dividing the citizens of a nation into twelve classes, — or,
if you prefer, into twelve grades, — assigned to some a salary
of one hundred thousand francs each; to others, eighty thousand;
then twenty-five thousand, fifteen thousand, ten thousand, &c.,
down to one thousand five hundred, and one thousand francs, the
minimum allowance of a citizen. Pinheiro loved distinctions,
and could no more conceive of a State without great dignitaries
than of an army without drum-majors; and as he also loved, or
thought he loved, liberty, equality, and fraternity, he combined
the good and the evil of our old society in an eclectic philosophy
which he embodied in a constitution. Excellent Pinheiro! Liberty
even to passive submission, fraternity even to identity of language,
equality even in the jury-box and at the guillotine, — such was
his ideal republic. Unappreciated genius, of whom the present
century was unworthy, but whom the future will avenge!
Listen, proprietor. Inequality of talent exists in fact; in
right it is not admissible, it goes for nothing, it is not thought
of. One Newton in a century is equal to thirty millions of men;
the psychologist admires the rarity of so fine a genius, the
legislator sees only the rarity of the function. Now, rarity
of function bestows no privilege upon the functionary; and that
for several reasons, all equally forcible.
genius was not, in the Creator's design, a motive to compel
society to go down on its knees before the man of superior
talents, but a providential means for the performance of all
functions to the greatest advantage of all.
a creation of society rather than a gift of Nature; it is an
accumulated capital, of which the receiver is only the
guardian. Without society, — without the education and powerful
assistance which it furnishes, — the finest nature would be inferior
to the most ordinary capacities in the very respect in which
it ought to shine. The more extensive a man's knowledge, the
more luxuriant his imagination, the more versatile his talent, — the
more costly has his education been, the more remarkable and numerous
were his teachers and his models, and the greater is his debt.
The farmer produces from the time that he leaves his cradle until
he enters his grave: the fruits of art and science are late and
scarce; frequently the tree dies before the fruit ripens. Society,
in cultivating talent, makes a sacrifice to hope.
have no common standard of comparison: the conditions of development
being equal, inequality of talent is simply speciality
of wages, like the right of increase, is economically impossible.
Take the most favorable case, — that where each laborer
has furnished his maximum production; that there may be an equitable
distribution of products, the share of each must be equal to
the quotient of the total production divided by the number of
laborers. This done, what remains wherewith to pay the higher
wages? Nothing whatever.
Will it be said that all laborers should be taxed? But, then,
their consumption will not be equal to their production, their
wages will not pay for their productive service, they will not
be able to repurchase their product, and we shall once more be
afflicted with all the calamities of property. I do not speak
of the injustice done to the defrauded laborer, of rivalry, of
excited ambition, and burning hatred, — these may all be important
considerations, but they do not hit the point.
On the one hand, each laborer's task being short and easy, and
the means for its successful accomplishment being equal in all
cases, how could there be large and small producers? On the other
hand, all functions being equal, either on account of the actual
equivalence of talents and capacities, or on account of social
co-operation, how could a functionary claim a salary proportional
to the worth of his genius?
But, what do I say?
In equality wages are always proportional to talents. What
is the economical meaning of wages? The reproductive
consumption of the laborer. The very act by which the laborer
produces constitutes, then, this consumption, exactly equal to
his production, of which we are speaking. When the astronomer
produces observations, the poet verses, or the savant experiments,
they consume instruments, books, travels, &c., &c.; now,
if society supplies this consumption, what more can the astronomer,
the savant, or the poet demand? We must conclude, then, that
in equality, and only in equality, St. Simon's adage — To
each according to his capacity to each capacity according to
its results — finds
its full and complete application.
III. The great evil — the horrible and ever-present evil — arising
from property, is that, while property exists, population, however
reduced, is, and always must be, over-abundant. Complaints have
been made in all ages of the excess of population; in all ages
property has been embarrassed by the presence of pauperism, not
perceiving that it caused it. Further, — nothing is more curious
than the diversity of the plans proposed for its extermination.
Their atrocity is equalled only by their absurdity.
The ancients made a practice of abandoning their children. The
wholesale and retail slaughter of slaves, civil and foreign wars,
also lent their aid. In Rome (where property held full sway),
these three means were employed so effectively, and for so long
a time, that finally the empire found itself without inhabitants.
When the barbarians arrived, nobody was to be found; the fields
were no longer cultivated; grass grew in the streets of the Italian
In China, from time immemorial, upon famine alone has devolved
the task of sweeping away the poor. The people living almost
exclusively upon rice, if an accident causes the crop to fail,
in a few days hunger kills the inhabitants by myriads; and the
Chinese historian records in the annals of the empire, that in
such a year of such an emperor twenty, thirty, fifty, one hundred
thousand inhabitants died of starvation. Then they bury the dead,
and recommence the production of children until another famine
leads to the same result. Such appears to have been, in all ages,
the Confucian economy.
I borrow the following facts from a modern economist: —
"Since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, England
has been preyed upon by pauperism. At that time beggars were
punished by law." Nevertheless, she had not one-fourth as
large a population as she has to-day.
prohibits alms-giving, on pain of imprisonment. . . . The
laws of 1547
and 1656 prescribe a like punishment,
in case of a second offence. Elizabeth orders that each parish
shall support its own paupers. But what is a pauper? Charles
II. decides that an undisputed residence of forty days constitutes
a settlement in a parish; but, if disputed, the new-comer
is forced to pack off. James II. modifies this decision,
again modified by William. In the midst of trials, reports,
and modifications, pauperism increases, and the workingman
in 1774 exceeded forty millions of francs; in 1783- 4-5, it
averaged fifty-three millions; 1813, more than
a hundred and eighty-seven millions five hundred thousand francs;
1816, two hundred and fifty millions; in 1817, it is estimated
at three hundred and seventeen millions.
"In 1821, the
number of paupers enrolled upon the parish lists was estimated
at four millions, nearly one-third of the
1544, Francis I. establishes a compulsory tax in behalf of
the poor. In 1566 and 1586, the same principle is
applied to the whole kingdom.
XIV., forty thousand paupers infested the capital [as many
in proportion as to-day]. Mendicity was punished
severely. In 1740, the Parliament of Paris re-establishes within
its own jurisdiction the compulsory assessment.
Constituent Assembly, frightened at the extent of the evil
and the difficulty
of curing it, ordains the statu quo.
Convention proclaims assistance of the poor to be a national
law remains unexecuted.
"Napoleon also wishes to remedy the evil: his idea is imprisonment.
`In that way,' said he, `I shall protect the rich from the importunity
of beggars, and shall relieve them of the disgusting sight of
From these facts, which I might multiply still farther, two
things are to be inferred, — the one, that pauperism is independent
of population; the other, that all attempts hitherto made at
its extermination have proved abortive.
Catholicism founds hospitals and convents, and commands charity;
that is, she encourages mendicity. That is the extent of her
insight as voiced by her priests.
The secular power of Christian nations now orders taxes on the
rich, now banishment and imprisonment for the poor; that is,
on the one hand, violation of the right of property, and, on
the other, civil death and murder.
The modern economists — thinking that pauperism is caused by
the excess of population, exclusively — have devoted themselves
to devising checks. Some wish to prohibit the poor from marrying;
thus, — having denounced religious celibacy, — they propose compulsory
celibacy, which will inevitably become licentious celibacy.
not approve this method, which they deem too violent; and which,
deprives the poor man of the only pleasure which he knows
in this world. They would simply recommend him to be prudent.
This opinion is held by Malthus, Sismondi, Say,
Droz, Duchatel, &c. But if the poor are to be prudent, the
rich must set the example. Why should the marriageable age of
the latter be fixed at eighteen years, while that of the former
is postponed until thirty?
Again, they would
do well to explain clearly what they mean by this matrimonial
prudence which they so urgently recommend
to the laborer; for here equivocation is especially dangerous,
and I suspect that the economists are not thoroughly understood. "Some
half-enlightened ecclesiastics are alarmed when they hear prudence
in marriage advised; they fear that the divine injunction — increase
and multiply — is to be set aside. To be logical, they must anathematize
bachelors." (J. Droz: Political Economy.)
is too honest a man, and too little of a theologian, to see
why these casuists are so alarmed; and this chaste ignorance
is the very best evidence of the purity of his heart. Religion
never has encouraged early marriages; and the kind of prudence which it condemns is that described in this Latin sentence from
Sanchez, — An licet ob metum liberorum semen extra vas
Destutt de Tracy
seems to dislike prudence in either form. He says: "I confess that I no more share the desire of the
moralists to diminish and restrain our pleasures, than that of
the politicians to increase our procreative powers, and accelerate
reproduction." He believes, then, that we should love and
marry when and as we please. Widespread misery results from love
and marriage, but this our philosopher does not heed. True to
the dogma of the necessity of evil, to evil he looks for the
solution of all problems. He adds: "The multiplication of
men continuing in all classes of society, the surplus members
of the upper classes are supported by the lower classes, and
those of the latter are destroyed by poverty." This philosophy
has few avowed partisans; but it has over every other the indisputable
advantage of demonstration in practice. Not long since France
heard it advocated in the Chamber of Deputies, in the course
of the discussion on the electoral reform, — Poverty
will always exist. That is the political aphorism with which
the minister of state ground to powder the arguments of M. Arago.
Poverty will always exist! Yes, so long as property does.
The Fourierists — inventors of so many marvellous contrivances —
could not, in this field, belie their character. They invented
four methods of checking increase of population at will.
vigor of women. On this point they are contradicted by experience;
for, although vigorous women may be less likely to
conceive, nevertheless they give birth to the healthiest children;
so that the advantage of maternity is on their side.
exercise, or the equal development of all the physical powers.
If this development is equal, how is the power of reproduction
gastronomic régime; or, in plain English, the philosophy of the belly.
The Fourierists say, that abundance of rich food
renders women sterile; just as too much sap — while enhancing
the beauty of flowers — destroys their reproductive capacity.
But the analogy is a false one. Flowers become sterile when the
stamens — or male organs — are changed into petals, as may be seen
by inspecting a rose; and when through excessive dampness the
pollen loses its fertilizing power. Then, — in order that
the gastronomic régime may produce the results claimed
for it, — not
only must the females be fattened, but the males must be rendered
morality, or public concubinage. I know not why the phalansterians
Greek words to convey ideas which
can be expressed so clearly in French. This method — like the
preceding one — is copied from civilized customs. Fourier, himself,
cites the example of prostitutes as a proof. Now we have no certain
knowledge yet of the facts which he quotes. So states Parent
Duchatelet in his work on "Prostitution."
From all the information which I have been able to gather, I
find that all the remedies for pauperism and fecundity — sanctioned
by universal practice, philosophy, political economy, and the
latest reformers — may be summed up in the following list: masturbation,
onanism,3 sodomy, tribadie, polyandry,4 prostitution, castration,
continence, abortion, and infanticide.5
All these methods being proved inadequate, there remains proscription.
proscription, while decreasing the number of the poor, increases
their proportion. If the interest charged
by the proprietor upon the product is equal only to one-twentieth
of the product (by law it is equal to one-twentieth of the capital),
it follows that twenty laborers produce for nineteen only; because
there is one among them, called proprietor, who eats the share
of two. Suppose that the twentieth laborer — the poor one — is
killed: the production of the following year will be diminished
one-twentieth; consequently the nineteenth will have to yield
his portion, and perish. For, since it is not one-twentieth of
the product of nineteen which must be paid to the proprietor,
but one-twentieth of the product of twenty (see third proposition),
each surviving laborer must sacrifice one-twentieth plus one
four-hundredth of his product; in other words, one man out of
nineteen must be killed. Therefore, while property exists, the
more poor people we kill, the more there are born in proportion.
who proved so clearly that population increases in geometrical
progression, while production increases only in arithmetical
progression, did not notice this pauperizing power of property.
Had he observed this, he would have understood that, before trying
to check reproduction, the right of increase should be abolished;
because, wherever that right is tolerated, there are always too
many inhabitants, whatever the extent or fertility of the soil.
It will be asked, perhaps, how I would maintain a balance between
population and production; for sooner or later this problem must
be solved. The reader will pardon me, if I do not give my method
here. For, in my opinion, it is useless to say a thing unless
we prove it. Now, to explain my method fully would require no
less than a formal treatise. It is a thing so simple and so vast,
so common and so extraordinary, so true and so misunderstood,
so sacred and so profane, that to name it without developing
and proving it would serve only to excite contempt and incredulity.
One thing at a time. Let us establish equality, and this remedy
will soon appear; for truths follow each other, just as crimes
and errors do.
Property is impossible, because it is the Mother of Tyranny.
What is government? Government is public economy, the supreme
administrative power over public works and national possessions.
nation is like a vast society in which all the, citizens are
stockholders. Each one has a deliberative voice in the assembly;
and, if the shares are equal, has one vote at his disposal. But,
under the régime of property, there is great inequality
between the shares of the stockholders; therefore, one may have
hundred votes, while another has only one. If, for example, I
enjoy an income of one million; that is, if I am the proprietor
of a fortune of thirty or forty millions well invested, and if
this fortune constitutes 1/30000 of the national capital, — it
is clear that the public administration of my property would
form 1/30000 of the duties of the government; and, if the nation
had a population of thirty-four millions, that I should have
as many votes as one thousand one hundred and thirty- three simple
Thus, when M. Arago demands the right of suffrage for all members
of the National Guard, he is perfectly right; since every citizen
is enrolled for at least one national share, which entitles him
to one vote. But the illustrious orator ought at the same time
to demand that each elector shall have as many votes as he has
shares; as is the case in commercial associations. For to do
otherwise is to pretend that the nation has a right to dispose
of the property of individuals without consulting them; which
is contrary to the right of property. In a country where property
exists, equality of electoral rights is a violation of property.
Now, if each citizen's sovereignty must and ought to be proportional
to his property, it follows that the small stock holders are
at the mercy of the larger ones; who will, as soon as they choose,
make slaves of the former, marry them at pleasure, take from
them their wives, castrate their sons, prostitute their daughters,
throw the aged to the sharks, — and finally will be forced to
serve themselves in the same way, unless they prefer to tax themselves
for the support of their servants. In such a condition is Great
Britain to-day. John Bull — caring little for liberty, equality,
or dignity — prefers to serve and beg. But you, bonhomme
Property is incompatible with political and civil equality;
then property is impossible.
vote of the third estate was doubled by the States-General
of 1789, property was grossly violated.
The nobility and the clergy possessed three-fourths of the
soil of France; they should have controlled three-fourths of
in the national representation. To double the vote of the third
estate was just, it is said, since the people paid nearly all
the taxes. This argument would be sound, if there were nothing
to be voted upon but taxes. But it was a question at that time
of reforming the government and the constitution; consequently,
the doubling of the vote of the third estate was a usurpation,
and an attack on property.
the present representatives of the radical opposition should
come into power, they would work a reform by which every
National Guard should be an elector, and every elector eligible
for office, — an attack on property.
would lower the rate of interest on public funds, — an
attack on property.
would, in the interest of the public, pass laws to regulate
the exportation of cattle and wheat, — an attack on
would alter the assessment of taxes, — an attack on
would educate the people gratuitously, — a conspiracy
would organize labor; that is, they would guarantee labor
to the workingman, and give him a share in the profits, — the
abolition of property.
these same radicals are zealous defenders of property, — a
radical proof that they know not what they do, nor what they
is the grand cause of privilege and despotism, the form of
the republican oath should be changed. Instead of, "I
swear hatred to royalty," henceforth the new member of a
secret society should say, "I swear hatred to property."
is impossible, because,
in consuming its Receipts, it loses
in hoarding them, it nullifies them;
them as Capital, it turns them against Production.
I. If, with the economists, we consider the laborer as a living
machine, we must regard the wages paid to him as the amount necessary
to support this machine, and keep it in repair. The head of a
manufacturing establishment — who employs laborers at three, five,
ten, and fifteen francs per day, and who charges twenty francs
for his superintendence — does not regard his disbursements
as losses, because he knows they will return to him in the form
of products. Consequently, labor and reproductive
consumption are identical.
What is the proprietor? He is a machine which does not work;
or, which working for its own pleasure, and only when it sees
fit, produces nothing.
What is it to consume as a proprietor? It is to consume without
working, to consume without reproducing. For, once more, that
which the proprietor consumes as a laborer comes back to him;
he does not give his labor in exchange for his property, since,
if he did, he would thereby cease to be a proprietor. In consuming
as a laborer, the proprietor gains, or at least does not lose,
since he recovers that which he consumes; in consuming as a proprietor,
he impoverishes himself. To enjoy property, then, it is necessary
to destroy it; to be a real proprietor, one must cease to be
The laborer who consumes
his wages is a machine which destroys and reproduces; the proprietor
who consumes his income is a bottomless
gulf, — sand which we water, a stone which we sow. So true is
this, that the proprietor — neither wishing nor knowing how to
produce, and perceiving that as fast as he uses his property
he destroys it for ever — has taken the precaution to make
some one produce in his place. That is what political economy,
in the name of eternal justice, calls producing by his capital, — producing
by his tools. And that is what ought to be called producing
by a slave — producing as a thief and as a tyrant. He, the
proprietor, produce! . . . The robber might say, as well: "I produce."
of the proprietor has been styled luxury, in opposition to
useful consumption. From what has just been said,
we see that great luxury can prevail in a nation which is not
rich, — that poverty even increases with luxury, and vice
The economists (so much credit must be given them, at least)
have caused such a horror of luxury, that to-day a very large
number of proprietors — not to say almost all — ashamed of their
idleness — labor, economize, and capitalize. They have jumped
from the frying-pan into the fire.
I cannot repeat it too often: the proprietor who thinks to deserve
his income by working, and who receives wages for his labor,
is a functionary who gets paid twice; that is the only difference
between an idle proprietor and a laboring proprietor. By his
labor, the proprietor produces his wages only — not his income.
And since his condition enables him to engage in the most lucrative
pursuits, it may be said that the proprietor's labor harms society
more than it helps it. Whatever the proprietor does, the consumption
of his income is an actual loss, which his salaried functions
neither repair nor justify; and which would annihilate property,
were it not continually replenished by outside production.
the proprietor who consumes annihilates the product: he does
much worse if he lays it up. The things which he lays
by pass into another world; nothing more is seen of them, not
even the caput mortuum, — the smoke. If we had some means of
transportation by which to travel to the moon, and if the proprietors
should be seized with a sudden fancy to carry their savings thither,
at the end of a certain time our terraqueous planet would be
transported by them to its satellite!
The proprietor who lays up products will neither allow others
to enjoy them, nor enjoy them himself; for him there is neither
possession nor property. Like the miser, he broods over his treasures:
he does not use them. He may feast his eyes upon them; he may
lie down with them; he may sleep with them in his arms: all very
fine, but coins do not breed coins. No real property without
enjoyment; no enjoyment without consumption; no consumption without
loss of property, — such is the inflexible necessity to which
God's judgment compels the proprietor to bend. A curse upon property
III. The proprietor who, instead of consuming his income, uses
it as capital, turns it against production, and thereby makes
it impossible for him to exercise his right. For the more he
increases the amount of interest to be paid upon it, the more
he is compelled to diminish wages. Now, the more he diminishes
wages, — that is, the less he devotes to the maintenance and repair
of the machines, — the more he diminishes the quantity of labor;
and with the quantity of labor the quantity of product, and with
the quantity of product the very source of his income. This is
clearly shown by the following example: —
Take an estate consisting of arable land, meadows, and vineyards,
containing the dwellings of the owner and the tenant; and worth,
together with the farming implements, one hundred thousand francs,
the rate of increase being three per cent. If, instead of consuming
his revenue, the proprietor uses it, not in enlarging but in
beautifying his estate, can he annually demand of his tenant
an additional ninety francs on account of the three thousand
francs which he has thus added to his capital? Certainly not;
for on such conditions the tenant, though producing no more than
before, would soon be obliged to labor for nothing, — what do
I say? to actually suffer loss in order to hold his lease.
revenue can increase only as productive soil increases: it
is useless to build walls of marble, and work with plows of
gold. But, since it is impossible to go on acquiring for ever,
to add estate to estate, to continue one’s possessions,
as the Latins said; and since, moreover, the proprietor always
wherewith to capitalize, — it follows that the exercise of his
right finally becomes impossible.
Well, in spite of this impossibility, property capitalizes,
and in capitalizing increases its revenue; and, without stopping
to look at the particular cases which occur in commerce, manufacturing
operations, and banking, I will cite a graver fact, — one which
directly affects all citizens. I mean the indefinite increase
of the budget.
The taxes increase every year. It would be difficult to tell
in which department of the government the expenses increase;
for who can boast of any knowledge as to the budget? On this
point, the ablest financiers continually disagree. What is to
be thought, I ask, of the science of government, when its professors
cannot understand one another's figures? Whatever be the immediate
causes of this growth of the budget, it is certain that taxation
increases at a rate which causes everybody to despair. Everybody
sees it, everybody acknowledges it; but nobody seems to understand
the primary cause.6 Now,
I say that it cannot be otherwise, — that
it is necessary and inevitable.
is the tenant of a rich proprietor called the government,
to whom it pays, for the use of the soil, a farm- rent called
a tax. Whenever the government makes war, loses or gains a battle,
changes the outfit of its army, erects a monument, digs a canal,
opens a road, or builds a railway, it borrows money, on which
the tax-payers pay interest; that is, the government, without
adding to its productive capacity, increases its active capital, — in
a word, capitalizes after the manner of the proprietor of whom
I have just spoken.
Now, when a governmental loan is once contracted, and the interest
is once stipulated, the budget cannot be reduced. For, to accomplish
that, either the capitalists must relinquish their interest,
which would involve an abandonment of property; or the government
must go into bankruptcy, which would be a fraudulent denial of
the political principle; or it must pay the debt, which would
require another loan; or it must reduce expenses, which is impossible,
since the loan was contracted for the sole reason that the ordinary
receipts were insufficient; or the money expended by the government
must be reproductive, which requires an increase of productive
capacity, — a condition excluded by our hypothesis; or, finally,
the tax-payers must submit to a new tax in order to pay the debt, — an
impossible thing. For, if this new tax were levied upon all citizens
alike, half, or even more, of the citizens would be unable to
pay it; if the rich had to bear the whole, it would be a forced
contribution, — an invasion of property. Long financial experience
has shown that the method of loans, though exceedingly dangerous,
is much surer, more convenient, and less costly than any other
method; consequently the government borrows, — that is, goes on
capitalizing, — and increases the budget.
Then, a budget, instead of ever diminishing, must necessarily
and continually increase. It is astonishing that the economists,
with all their learning, have failed to perceive a fact so simple
and so evident. If they have perceived it, why have they neglected
to condemn it?
Comment. — Much interest is felt at present in a financial
operation which is expected to result in a reduction of the budget.
It is proposed to change the present rate of increase, five per
cent. Laying aside the politico-legal question to deal only with
the financial question, — is it not true that, when five per cent.
is changed to four per cent., it will then be necessary, for
the same reasons, to change four to three; then three to two,
then two to one, and finally to sweep away increase altogether?
But that would be the advent of equality of conditions and the
abolition of property. Now it seems to me, that an intelligent
nation should voluntarily meet an inevitable revolution half
way, instead of suffering itself to be dragged after the car
of inflexible necessity.
Property is impossible, because its power of Accumulation is
and is exercised only over finite quantities.
If men, living in equality, should grant to one of their number
the exclusive right of property; and this sole proprietor should
lend one hundred francs to the human race at compound interest,
payable to his descendants twenty-four generations hence, — at
the end of six hundred years this sum of one hundred francs,
at five per cent., would amount to 107,854,010,777,600 francs;
two thousand six hundred and ninety-six and one-third times the
capital of France (supposing her capital to be 40,000,000,000),
or more than twenty times the value of the terrestrial globe!
Suppose that a man, in the reign of St. Louis, had borrowed
one hundred francs, and had refused, — he and his heirs after
him, — to return it. Even though it were known that the said heirs
were not the rightful possessors, and that prescription had been
interrupted always at the right moment, — nevertheless, by our
laws, the last heir would be obliged to return the one hundred
francs with interest, and interest on the interest; which in
all would amount, as we have seen, to nearly one hundred and
eight thousand billions.
Every day, fortunes are growing in our midst much more rapidly
than this. The preceding example supposed the interest equal
to one-twentieth of the capital, — it often equals one-tenth,
one- fifth, one-half of the capital; and sometimes the capital
The Fourierists — irreconcilable
enemies of equality, whose partisans they regard as sharks — intend,
by quadrupling production, to satisfy all the demands of capital,
labor, and skill. But, should
production be multiplied by four, ten, or even one hundred, property
would soon absorb, by its power of accumulation and the effects
of its capitalization, both products and capital, and the land,
and even the laborers. Is the phalanstery to be prohibited from
capitalizing and lending at interest? Let it explain, then, what
it means by property.
I will carry these calculations no farther. They are capable
of infinite variation, upon which it would be puerile for me
to insist. I only ask by what standard judges, called upon to
decide a suit for possession, fix the interest? And, developing
the question, I ask, —
Did the legislator,
in introducing into the Republic the principle of property,
weigh all the consequences? Did he know the law
of the possible? If he knew it, why is it not in the Code? Why
is so much latitude allowed to the proprietor in accumulating
property and charging interest, — to the judge in recognizing
and fixing the domain of property, — to the State in its power
to levy new taxes continually? At what point is the nation justified
in repudiating the budget, the tenant his farm-rent, and the
manufacturer the interest on his capital? How far may the idler
take advantage of the laborer? Where does the right of spoliation
begin, and where does it end? When may the producer say to the
proprietor, "I owe you nothing more"? When is property
satisfied? When must it cease to steal?
If the legislator did know the law of the possible, and disregarded
it, what must be thought of his justice? If he did not know it,
what must be thought of his wisdom? Either wicked or foolish,
how can we recognize his authority?
If our charters
and our codes are based upon an absurd hypothesis, what is
taught in the law-schools? What does a judgment of the
Court of Appeal amount to? About what do our Chambers deliberate?
What is politics? What is our definition of a statesman?
What is the meaning of jurisprudence? Should we not rather
If all our institutions are based upon an error in calculation,
does it not follow that these institutions are so many shams?
And if the entire social structure is built upon this absolute
impossibility of property, is it not true that the government
under which we live is a chimera, and our present society a utopia?
Property is impossible, because it is powerless against Property.
I. By the third corollary of our axiom, interest tells against
the proprietor as well as the stranger. This economical principle
is universally admitted. Nothing simpler at first blush; yet,
nothing more absurd, more contradictory in terms, or more absolutely
it is said, pays himself the rent on his house and capital.
He pays himself; that is, he gets paid by the public
who buy his products. For, suppose the manufacturer, who seems
to make this profit on his property, wishes also to make it on
his merchandise, can he then pay himself one franc for that which
cost him ninety centimes, and make money by the operation? No:
such a transaction would transfer the merchant's money from his
right hand to his left, but without any profit whatever.
Now, that which is true of a single individual trading with
himself is true also of the whole business world. Form a chain
of ten, fifteen, twenty producers; as many as you wish. If the
producer A makes a profit out of the producer B. B's loss must,
according to economical principles, be made up by C, C's by D;
and so on through to Z.
But by whom
will Z be paid for the loss caused him by the profit charged
A in the beginning? By the consumer, replies Say.
Contemptible equivocation! Is this consumer any other, then,
than A, B. C, D, &c., or Z? By whom will Z be paid? If he
is paid by A, no one makes a profit; consequently, there is no
property. If, on the contrary, Z bears the burden himself, he
ceases to be a member of society; since it refuses him the right
of property and profit, which it grants to the other associates.
Since, then, a nation,
like universal humanity, is a vast industrial association which
cannot act outside of itself, it is clear that
no man can enrich himself without impoverishing another. For,
in order that the right of property, the right of increase, may
be respected in the case of A, it must be denied to Z; thus we
see how equality of rights, separated from equality of conditions,
may be a truth. The iniquity of political economy in this respect
I, a manufacturer, purchase the labor of a workingman, I
do not include his wages in the net product
of my business; on the contrary, I deduct them. But the
workingman includes them in his net product. . . . " (Say:
means that all which the workingman gains is net product;
but that only that part of the manufacturer's gains is net
which remains after deducting his wages. But why is the right
of profit confined to the manufacturer? Why is this right, which
is at bottom the right of property itself, denied to the workingman?
In the terms of economical science, the workingman is capital.
Now, all capital, beyond the cost of its maintenance and repair,
must bear interest. This the proprietor takes care to get, both
for his capital and for himself. Why is the workingman prohibited
from charging a like interest for his capital, which is himself?
Property, then, is inequality of rights; for, if it were not
inequality of rights, it would be equality of goods, — in other
words, it would not exist. Now, the charter guarantees to all
equality of rights. Then, by the charter, property is impossible.
II. Is A, the proprietor
of an estate, entitled by the fact of his proprietorship to
take possession of the field belonging
to B. his neighbor? "No," reply the proprietors; "but
what has that to do with the right of property?" That I
shall show you by a series of similar propositions.
Has C, a hatter, the right to force D, his neighbor and also
a hatter, to close his shop, and cease his business? Not the
least in the world.
But C wishes to make a profit of one franc on every hat, while
D is content with fifty centimes. It is evident that D's moderation
is injurious to C's extravagant claims. Has the latter a right
to prevent D from selling? Certainly not.
Since D is at liberty to sell his hats fifty centimes cheaper
than C if he chooses, C in his turn is free to reduce his price
one franc. Now, D is poor, while C is rich; so that at the end
of two or three years D is ruined by this intolerable competition,
and C has complete control of the market. Can the proprietor
D get any redress from the proprietor C? Can he bring a suit
against him to recover his business and property? No; for D could
have done the same thing, had he been the richer of the two.
On the same ground,
the large proprietor A may say to the small proprietor B: "Sell me your field, otherwise you shall not
sell your wheat," — and that without doing him the least
wrong, or giving him ground for complaint. So that A can devour
B if he likes, for the very reason that A is stronger than B.
Consequently, it is not the right of property which enables A
and C to rob B and D, but the right of might. By the right of
property, neither the two neighbors A and B, nor the two merchants
C and D, could harm each other. They could neither dispossess
nor destroy one another, nor gain at one another's expense. The
power of invasion lies in superior strength.
But it is superior
strength also which enables the manufacturer to reduce the
wages of his employees, and the rich merchant and
well-stocked proprietor to sell their products for what they
please. The manufacturer says to the laborer, "You are as
free to go elsewhere with your services as I am to receive them.
I offer you so much." The merchant says to the customer, "Take
it or leave it; you are master of your money, as I am of my goods.
I want so much." Who will yield? The weaker.
Therefore, without force, property is powerless against property,
since without force it has no power to increase; therefore, without
force, property is null and void.
Comment. — The struggle between colonial and native
sugars furnishes us a striking example of this impossibility
of property. Leave these two industries to themselves, and the
native manufacturer will be ruined by the colonist. To maintain
the beet-root, the cane must be taxed: to protect the property
of the one, it is necessary to injure the property of the other.
The most remarkable feature of this business is precisely that
to which the least attention is paid; namely, that, in one way
or another, property has to be violated. Impose on each industry
a proportional tax, so as to preserve a balance in the market,
and you create a maximum price, — you attack property in
two ways. On the one hand, your tax interferes with the liberty
on the other, it does not recognize equality of proprietors.
Indemnify the beet-root, you violate the property of the tax-
payer. Cultivate the two varieties of sugar at the nation's expense,
just as different varieties of tobacco are cultivated, — you
abolish one species of property. This last course would be the
simpler and better one; but, to induce the nations to adopt it,
requires such a co-operation of able minds and generous hearts
as is at present out of the question.
Competition, sometimes called liberty of trade, — in a word,
property in exchange, — will be for a long time the basis of our
commercial legislation; which, from the economical point of view,
embraces all civil laws and all government. Now, what is competition?
A duel in a closed field, where arms are the test of right.
"Who is the liar, — the accused or the accuser?" said
our barbarous ancestors. "Let them fight it out," replied
the still more barbarous judge; "the stronger is right."
Which of us two shall
sell spices to our neighbor? "Let
each offer them for sale," cries the economist; "the
sharper, or the more cunning, is the more honest man, and the
Such is the exact spirit of the Code Napoleon.
Property is impossible, because it is the Negation of equality.
The development of this proposition will be the resume of the
a principle of economical justice, that products are bought
only by products. Property, being capable of defence only on
the ground that it produces utility, is, since it produces
nothing, for ever condemned.
an economical law, that labor must be balanced by product.
It is a fact that, with property, production costs more than
it is worth.
economical law: The capital being given, production is measured,
not by the amount of capital, but by productive capacity. Property,
requiring income to be always proportional to capital without
regard to labor, does not recognize this relation
of equality between effect and cause.
and 5. Like
the insect which spins its silk, the laborer never produces
for himself alone. Property, demanding a double product
and unable to obtain it, robs the laborer, and kills him.
given to every man but one mind, one heart, one will. Property,
granting to one individual a plurality of votes,
supposes him to have a plurality of minds.
which is not reproductive of utility is destruction. Property,
whether it consumes or hoards or capitalizes, is productive
of inutility, — the cause of sterility and death.
of a natural right always gives rise to an equation; in other
words, the right to a thing is necessarily
balanced by the possession of the thing. Thus, between the right
to liberty and the condition of a free man there is a balance,
an equation; between the right to be a father and paternity,
an equation; between the right to security and the social guarantee,
an equation. But between the right of increase and the receipt
of this increase there is never an equation; for every new increase
carries with it the right to another, the latter to a third,
and so on for ever. Property, never being able to accomplish
its object, is a right against Nature and against reason.
property is not self-existent. An extraneous cause —
either force or fraud — is necessary to its
life and action. In other words, property is not equal to property:
it is a negation — a
delusion — NOTHING.
There is an error in the author's calculation here; but
the translator, feeling sure that the reader will understand
Proudhon's meaning, prefers not to alter his figures. — Translator.
having to multiply a whole number by a fraction, never
failed, they say, to obtain a product much greater
than the multiplicand. He affirmed that under his system
of harmony the mercury would solidify when the temperature
was above zero. He might as well have said that the Harmonians
would make burning ice. I once asked an intelligent phalansterian
what he thought of such physics. "I do not know," he
answered; "but I believe." And yet the same
man disbelieved in the doctrine of the Real Presence.
inter se differunt onanismus et manuspratio, nempe quod haec a solitario exercetur,
ille autem a duobus
reciprocatur, masculo scilicet et faemina. Porro foedam
hanc onanismi venerem ludentes uxoria mariti habent nunc
Polyandry, — plurality of husbands.
has just been publicly advocated in England, in a pamphlet written by a disciple
of Malthus. He proposes
an annual massacre of the innocents in
containing more children than the law allows; and he asks that a
magnificent cemetery, adorned with statues, groves, fountains,
and flowers, be set apart as a special burying-place
for the superfluous children. Mothers would resort to
this delightful spot to dream of the happiness of these
little angels, and would return, quite comforted, to
give birth to others, to be buried in their turn.
financial situation of the English government was shown
up in the House of Lords during the session of January
23. It is not an encouraging one. For several years the
expenses have exceeded the receipts, and the Minister has
been able to re- establish the balance only by loans renewed
annually. The combined deficits of the years 1838 and 1839
amount to forty- seven million five hundred thousand francs.
In 1840, the excess of expenses over receipts is expected
to be twenty-two million five hundred thousand francs.
Attention was called to these figures by Lord Ripon. Lord
Melbourne replied: `The noble earl unhappily was right
in declaring that the public expenses continually increase,
and with him I must say that there is no room for hope
that they can be diminished or met in any way.'" — National:
January 26, 1840.
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