“Without credit, no commerce—without commerce, no labor. Let us seek, then, to build up that credit, which, unfortunately, has never been much extended in France. To effect this, neither great efforts, nor eccentric measures (that would certainly fail in effect) are necessary. There is but one thing requisite—liberty. Not the deceptive liberty that it is pretended we enjoy, but a true liberty that has no accounts to settle with monopoly.”
Why, indeed, have we been beaten? Because of the unawareness of the public regarding the issue: ignorance is therefore the enemy that we have to fight and to defeat, and in this very battle our weapon must be the truth, the only exact and only fruitful principle of the inalienable and imprescriptible right that is the right to exchange.
In addition to the office of the Revue Bleue, I regularly visited that of the Journal des Économistes, which was adjacent to Guillaumin’s publishingcompany, located on rue de Richelieu. Every Saturday, in the late afternoon, the editor-in-chief, Gustave de Molinari, was receiving people. I cannot remember anyone whose conversation struck me more or as much as his. When discussing any issue, he had his own ideas and phrases. One could never be sure of what he was going to say, or how he was going to say it, except that he would say it like no one else. His originality went as far as paradox, and he carried paradox into theory.
What is the argument of opponents of women’s suffrage? Their incapacity, their feeble mind, their ignorance! They proclaim, by this very fact, that universal suffrage is a function. Men are sole responsible for regulating it. They establish themselves as the sovereign judges of the aptitudes of those who are to fulfill it. They claim to be the only ones capable of doing so; all of them are capable; and being the strongest, they exclude all women. After having banned half the nation from that role, they pompously declare that they have established universal suffrage. It is the oligarchy of sex substituted for the oligarchy of money.
The Dictionnaire de l’Économie politique, which we have undertaken, will include short biographies of the people who have written on any branch of Political Economy, and consequently we kindly ask you to provide us with:
1° The date and place of your birth;
2° A summary of the positions you have held;
3° The list of the works you have published, indicating the number of volumes, the format and the date of publication.
Why would I hide this observation from you? The more France admires your imagination, the more she distrusts it. Poetry and business are believed to be mutually exclusive; one finds in your speeches noble thoughts, generous intentions, an inimitable eloquence, but one cannot find a program, namely what there is to do now. Tell us, tell us then: If I were a minister, these are the reforms I would make and the order in which I would make them! — And if that is clear, striking, practical, be sure that France will take you to the ministry.
The time is approaching, Mr. Guillaumin, when an all-out fight will be fought between Socialism and Political Economy; between prohibition and non-prohibition, between democracy and monarchy, etc. This battle must not use the cannon, but the press. If you want it, you are in a position to make your store the battleground of all ideas. Remain impartial, seize all opportunities, create them if necessary, and your part in the revolution which is brewing will be one of the best. You know what role the printer and bookseller Panckoucke played in the 18th century; you can surpass it by all the superiority that our century has over the previous one.
The Council is therefore of the opinion that the program written by Mr. Garnier can be accepted; provided, however, that the lessons to be given on the topics of this program will be developed with great caution, and in such a way that, in all controversial questions, the facts alone will be presented in an affirmative form, and that the arguments in favor of the various systems will be exposed impartially, to the exclusion of any formal conclusion which common opinion has not definitively sanctioned.
It is tempting for a liberty-minded historian to leave untouched the comforting presumption that French classical liberals, who championed freedom for the individual in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, must have upheld women’s rights too. Contemporary studies, while often obliterating the role of men in the development of feminist rhetoric, have found occasionally in the history of ideas some remarkable advocates well ahead of their times, and they have offered them as objects of uncritical admiration, in a sort of reconciliatory carnival. One easily concludes that feminism was burgeoning in every century, and that the rising tide was lifting up all boats. […]
In the 18th and 19th centuries, French classical liberals have often seen the United States as an example and a model. Yet, if some have loved this country in a sort of long-distance relationship, others have actually made the travel and have written detail accounts. In this article, Benoît Malbranque examines the praises and criticisms put forward by authors such as Volney, Tocqueville or Gustave de Molinari, regarding the social and economic situation of the United States.