On introducing the first of multiple volumes offering the collected writings of the Physiocrat economist Pierre Samuel Du Pont (de Nemours), lengthy pages could be devoted to his merits or the tremendous heritage that he left, both intellectually and practically, on each side of the Atlantic. Yet on the assumption that a reader opening such a large book must have been motivated by more than a sense of curiosity, and his justification been more substantial than a pick at random, I shall confine myself presently to the assertion that on the part of the Institut Coppet, and mine, it is our feeling that a duty has simply been performed, and justice rendered.
Government is not an essential part of the organization of societies. I would ask you to note that I am not saying that government is useless; I say that it is not essential; that society can exist without it; and that if the associates were willing to do their business and to let me do mine, the society might as well function without government. Public authority is therefore an accident; it is an accident made necessary by our imprudence, by our injustice which leads us to infringe on the rights of our fellow man.
Dupont understands the table well and can even apply it to all cases of accounting and administrative operations, with the exception of rural activities for which he does not have the exact data, and which are nevertheless the key to everything. However, he can be regarded as a true scholar in regard to the table. La Rivière has no clue about it. He was in a hurry to use and enjoy. He even wanted to strip the doctor, who was doing it enough by himself, and then disavow him. He would have gone as far as to turn his back on his father and mother, said the doctor. Thus, although he has written under his direction and in his entresol a great work on the totality of science applied to practice, and that he can still write some very good other ones, he possesses the results and most of the principles, but he is not and will never be a literate economist. The same can be said of Turgot, who moreover adds errors to what he knows and disavow the master.
You must have known for a very long time just how much I love peace, and your letter confirms me that you are indeed well aware of it. I have proved you how much peace is dear to me as soon as 1763, that is, from the first moment we met, and at a time when you looked so negatively on my book De l’exportation et de l’importation des grains, which was nonetheless very well received in the public, and which you strongly advised me never to publish….
In the question I am dealing with here, I find myself led to criticize the system of some philosophers, who have been called Economists, and who supposed they could establish the uselessness of the balance of powers by putting forward what they called the power of the evidence; the natural and essential order of political societies; legal despotism. This is, without a doubt, a very peculiar opinion, the examination of which one could deem unnecessary. But the real services that these philosophers have rendered to the enhancement of social knowledge compel us not to ignore the paradoxes which they sometimes put forward while believing to be spreading useful truths. […]
Letter from Dupont (de Nemours) to G.-F. Le Trosne July 24th, 1766 translated by Benoît Malbranque [Eleutherian Mills Historical Library, Winterthur Manuscripts, W2-5.] To Mr. Le Trosne 24 July 1766 You have very distressing affairs, Sir, for those who would have a thousand reasons to wish to spend a little more time with you. You left my house when I had barely started to tell you half of the things that I had to say; I must finish relieving my heart by continuing my speech to you. Let me repeat, Sir, that there is no one whom I desire to […]
A man of greater strength, more laborious, more attentive about the future, would occupy more than a man of a contrary character. He, whose family is the most numerous having greater wants and more hands, extends his possessions further; this is a first cause of inequality.—Every piece of ground is not equally fertile; two men with the same extent of land, may reap a very different harvest; this is a second source of inequality. Property in descending from fathers to their children, divides into greater or less portions, according as the descendants are more or less numerous, and as one generation succeeds another, sometimes the inheritances again subdivide, and sometimes re-unite again by the extinction of some of the branches; this is a third source of inequality. The difference of knowledge, of activity, and, above all, the oeconomy of some, contrasted with the indolence, inaction, and dissipation of others, is a fourth principle of inequality, and the most powerful of all: the negligent and inattentive proprietor, who cultivates badly, who in a fruitful year consumes in frivolous things the whole of his superfluity, finds himself reduced on the least accident to request assistance from his more provident neighbour, and to live by borrowing.
THE productive Expenditures are employed in agriculture, meadows, pastures, forests, mines, fishing, etc. to perpetuate riches in the form of grain, beverages, wood, cattle, raw materials for the handicrafts, etc.
The sterile Expenses are made upon handicraft products, housing, clothing, interest on money, servants, commercial expenses, foreign commodities, etc.
The sale of the net product which the Cultivator has produced during the preceding year, by means of the annual Advances of 600 livres employed in agriculture by the Farmer, furnishes the proprietor a revenue of 600 livres.
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.
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.