Page:Economic Sophisms.djvu/15

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INTRODUCTION.

deductions, if we can, in a light so clear, that truth and error must show themselves plainly, openly, and without disguise,—and that the victory, once gained, may remain on the side of restriction, or on that of freedom.

And here I must set down an essential observation.

Some extracts from this little volume have already appeared in the Journal des Économistes.

In a critique, in other respects very favourable, from the pen of M. le Vicomte de Romanet, he supposes that I demand the suppression of customs. He is mistaken. I demand the suppression of the protectionist régime. We don't refuse taxes to the Government, but we desire, if possible, to dissuade the governed from taxing one another. Napoleon said that "the customhouse should not be made an instrument of revenue, but a means of protecting industry." We maintain the contrary, and we contend that the customhouse ought not to become in the hands of the working classes an instrument of reciprocal rapine, but that it may be used as an instrument of revenue as legitimately as any other. So far are we—or, to speak only for myself, so far am I—from demanding the suppression of customs, that I see in that branch of revenue our future anchor of safety. I believe our resources are capable of yielding to the Treasury immense returns; and to speak plainly, I must add, that, seeing how slow is the spread of soimd economic doctrines, and so rapid the increase of our budgets, I am disposed to count more upon the necessities of the Treasury than on the force of enlightened opinion for furthering the cause of commercial reform.

You ask me, then, What is your conclusion? and I reply, that here there is no need to arrive at a conclusion. I combat sophisms; that is all.

But you rejoin, that it is not enough to pull down—it is also necessary to build up. True; but to destroy an error, is to build up the truth which stands opposed to it.

After all, I have no repugnance to declare what my wishes are. I desire to see public opinion led to sanction a law of customs conceived nearly in these terms:—

Articles of primary necessity to pay a duty, ad valorem, of 5 per cent.