Page:Economic Sophisms.djvu/37

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
25
TO EQUALIZE THE CONDITIONS OF PRODUCTION.

comparison between the field of industry and the turf. But as regards the latter, the race is at once the means and the end. The public feels no interest in the competition beyond the competition itself. When you start your horses, your end, your object, is to find out which is the swiftest runner, and I see your reason for equalizing the weights. But if your end, your object, were to secure the arrival of some important and urgent news at the winning-post, could you, without inconsistency, throw obstacles in the way of any one who should offer you the best means of expediting your message? This is what you do in commercial affairs. You forget the end, the object sought to be attained, which is material prosperity; you disregard it, you sacrifice it to a veritable petitio principii; in plain language, you are begging the question.

But since we cannot bring our opponents to our point of view, let us place ourselves in theirs, and examine the question in its relations with production.

I shall endeavour to prove,

1st, That to level and equalize the conditions of labour, is to attack exchange in its essence and principle.

2d, That it is not true that the labour of a country is neutralized by the competition of more favoured countries.

3d, That if that were true, protective duties would not equalize the conditions of production.

4th, That liberty, freedom of trade, levels these conditions as much as they can be levelled.

5th, That the least favoured countries gain most by exchange.


I. To level and equalize the conditions of labour is not simply to cramp exchanges in certain branches of trade, it is to attack exchange in its principle, for its principle rests upon that very diversity, upon those very inequalities of fertility, aptitude, climate, and temperature, which you desire to efface. If Guienne sends wine to Brittany, and if Brittany sends corn to Guienne, it arises from their being placed under different conditions of production. Is there a different law for international exchanges? To urge against international exchanges that inequality of conditions which gives rise to them, and explains them, is to argue against their very existence. If protectionists had on their side