Benoît Malbranque, Notice on Frédéric Passy

Frédéric Passy was a pacifist, but not of the naïve kind. He was neither an anti-patriot nor an anti-militarist. He only thought that conflicts could often be avoided, provided that the settlement of international and internal disputes by peaceful means was at least tried. This is the reason why he founded several international organizations, such as the Ligue internationale et permanente de la paix (created in 1867), and the Société d’arbitrage entre les Nations (1870).

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Yves Guyot, Protectionist postulates and economic realities (1905)

Every protective tariff means increased taxation. A country’s wealth cannot be increased by increased taxation. (W. Smart.)

2. A protective tariff ought to bring in as little as possible to the Treasury, since its object is to prevent the importation of goods.

It ought to bring in as much as possible to those who produce the protected goods.
3. The effect of a protective duty on any commodity is to raise the price, not only of the amount imported, but of the whole quantity sold in the country; it is a private tax placed upon consumers for the benefit of producers.
4. A protective duty increases the price at which the protected article can be purchased, and diminishes the purchasing power of the buyer to the same extent.

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Benjamin Constant, The Liberty of Ancients Compared with that of Moderns (1819)

Benjamin Constant, The Liberty of Ancients Compared with that of Moderns (Unknown, 1819). The Liberty of Ancients Compared with that of Moderns Gentlemen, I wish to submit for your attention a few distinctions, still rather new, between two kinds of liberty: these differences have thus far remained unnoticed, or at least insufficiently remarked. The first is the liberty the exercise of which was so dear to the ancient peoples; the second the one the enjoyment of which is especially precious to the modern nations. If I am right, this investigation will prove interesting from two different angles. Firstly, the confusion […]

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Condillac, War as a direct blow directed against commerce (1776)

We have seen what freedom can achieve. It is time to sow dissension among our peoples, and to place constraints on trade: our assumptions will be the more plausible for that.

Divided by wars they form several nations which have opposing interests.

Now if we may assume that each of these nations trades freely within its boundaries we may no longer assume that they all trade freely with each other.

External trade, always hampered and sometimes suspended, will be all the less flourishing as it will be more expensive, whether from the losses to which it is exposed, or through the efforts made to sustain it.

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Yves Guyot, The Impotence of Socialism (1908)

The Socialist party cannot balance up a governmental majority without destroying government itself, for it cannot admit that government fulfils the minimum of its duties. When a strike breaks out, the intention of the strikers is that security of person and of property shall not be guaranteed; and they have been preceded, supported and followed in this by certain Radicals who, when put to the test, have been obliged to commit acts such as they have violently laid to the charge of preceding governments. Socialist policy represents contempt for law, and all men, whether rich or poor, have an interest in liberty, security and justice, for the private interest of each individual is bound up with these common blessings. Socialists despise them all.

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Jean-Baptiste Say, Introduction to the Treatise on Political Economy (1803)

A SCIENCE only advances with certainty, when the plan of inquiry and the object of our researches have been clearly defined; otherwise a small number of truths are loosely laid hold of, without their connexion being perceived, and numerous errors, without being enabled to detect their fallacy.

For a long time the science of politics, in strictness limited to the investigation of the principles which lay the foundation of the social order, was confounded with political economy, which unfolds the manner in which wealth is produced, distributed, and consumed. Wealth, nevertheless, is essentially independent of political organization. Under every form of government, a state, whose affairs are well administered, may prosper. Nations have risen to opulence under absolute monarchs, and have been ruined by popular councils. If political liberty is more favourable to the development of wealth, it is indirectly, in the same manner that it is more favourable to general education.

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Turgot, In Praise of Gournay (1759)

M. de Gournay found it equally strange that, in a kingdom in which the order of succession was determined simply by custom, and in which the question of applying the death sentence to certain crimes was still left to the discretion of the courts, the government should have deigned to regulate by special legislation the length and breadth of each piece of cloth, the number of threads it was to contain, and to hallow with the seal of the legislature four volumes in quarto filled with these important details, and in addition innumerable statutes, dictated by the spirit of monopoly, the whole purpose of which were to discourage industry, to concentrate trade within the hands of a few people by multiplying formalities and charges, by subjecting industry to apprenticeships and journeymanships (compagnonnages) often years in some trades which can be learned in ten days, by excluding those who were not sons of masters, or those born outside a certain class, and by prohibiting the employment of women in the manufacture of cloth, etc., etc.

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Gustave de Molinari, The Production of Security (1849)

If there is one well-established truth in political economy, it is this:

That in all cases, for all commodities that serve to provide for the tangible or intangible needs of the consumer, it is in the consumer’s best interest that labor and trade remain free, because the freedom of labor and of trade have as their necessary and permanent result the maximum reduction of price.

And this:

That the interests of the consumer of any commodity whatsoever should always prevail over the interests of the producer.

Now in pursuing these principles, one arrives at this rigorous conclusion:

That the production of security should, in the interests of the consumers of this intangible commodity, remain subject to the law of free competition.

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Frédéric Bastiat, That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen (1850)

In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause – it is seen. The others unfold in succession – they are not seen: it is well for us, if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference – the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen, and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, – at the risk of a small present evil.

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François Quesnay, On Natural Rights (1765)

The natural right of man in its primitive and most comprehensive sense is, the right which man has to whatever is advantageous to him; or, as the author, some of whose works I now publish, says, ‘the right which man has to whatever is necessary to his enjoyment.’

This right is subject, even by nature, to relations which vary its use so much, that we are obliged to define it in a very general manner, so as to embrace all the different states in which man can exist.

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