Page:Economic Sophisms.djvu/50

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
38
ECONOMIC SOPHISMS.

to gain by exchanging their products with those countries which possess them, because the subject of exchange is labour, apart from the consideration of the natural utilities worked up with that labour; and the countries which have incorporated in a given amount of their labour the greatest amount of these natural utilities, are evidently the most favoured countries. Their products which represent the least amount of human labour are the least profitable; in other words, they are cheaper; and if the whole liberality of nature resolves itself into cheapness, it is evidently not the producing, but the consuming, country which reaps the benefit.

Hence we see the enormous absurdity of consuming countries which reject products for the very reason that they are cheap. It is as if they said, "We want nothing that nature gives us. You ask me for an effort equal to two, in exchange for a product which I cannot create without an effort equal to four; you can make that effort, because in your case nature does half the work. Be it so; I reject your offer, and I shall wait until your climate, having become more inclement, will force you to demand from me an effort equal to four, in order that I may treat with you on a footing of equality."

A is a favoured country. B is a country to which nature has been less bountiful. I maintain that exchange benefits both, but benefits B especially; because exchange is not an exchange of utilities for utilities, but of value for value. Now A includes a greater amount of utility in the same value, seeing that the utility of a product includes what nature has put there, as well as what labour has put there; whilst value includes only what labour has put there. Then B makes quite an advantageous bargain. In recompensing the producer of A for his labour only, it receives into the bargain a greater amount of natural utility than it has given.

This enables us to lay down the general rule: Exchange is a barter of values; value under the action of competition being made to represent labour, exchange becomes a barter of equal labour. What nature has imparted to the products exchanged is on both sides given gratuitously and into the bargain; whence it follows necessarily that exchanges effected with countries the most favoured by nature are the most advantageous.