Page:Economic Sophisms.djvu/44

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ECONOMIC SOPHISMS.

Consumption is the end and final cause of all the economic phenomena, and it is in consumption consequently that we must expect to find their ultimate and definitive solution.

Nothing, whether favourable or unfavourable, can abide permanently with the producer. The advantages which nature and society bestow upon him, the inconveniences he may experience, glide past him, so to speak, and are absorbed and mixed up with the community in as far as the community represents consumers. This is an admirable law both in its cause and in its effects, and he who shall succeed in clearly describing it is entitled, in my opinion, to say, "I have not passed through life without paying my tribute to society."

Everything which favours the work of production is welcomed with joy by the producer, for the immediate effect of it is to put him in a situation to render greater service to the community, and to exact from it a greater remuneration. Every circumstance which retards or interrupts production gives pain to the producer, for the immediate effect of it is to circumscribe his services, and consequently his remuneration. Immediate good or ill circumstances—fortunate or unfortimate—necessarily fall upon the producer, and leave him no choice but to accept the one and eschew the other.

In the same way, when a workman succeeds in discovering an improved process in manufactures, the immediate profit from the improvement results to him. This was necessary, in order to give his labour an intelligent direction; and it is just, because it is fair that an effort crowned with success should carry its recompense along with it.

But I maintain that these good or bad effects, though in their own nature permanent, are not permanent as regards the producer. If it had been so, a principle of progressive, and, therefore, of indefinite, inequality would have been introduced among men, and this is the reason why these good or evil effects become very soon absorbed in the general destinies of the human race.

How is this brought about? I shall show how it takes place by some examples.

Let us go back to the thirteenth century. The men who then devoted themselves to the art of copying received for the