Molinari’s failed election of 1859, by Dries Van Thielen

Unlike some French economists who centered around the Journal des Economistes (notably Louis Wolowski and Frederic Bastiat), Gustave De Molinari never was a politician. However, this does not mean that he never ran for office. In this short overview, Dries van Thielen presents De Molinari’s failed attempt to join the ranks of the liberal party in 1859.

Continue Reading

Frédéric Bastiat, Speech on “Disarmament, Taxes, and the Influence of Political Economy on the Peace Movement” (1849)

Frédéric Bastiat, Speech on “Disarmament, Taxes, and the Influence of Political Economy on the Peace Movement”, in Report of the proceedings of the second general Peace Congress, held in Paris on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of august 1849, London, 1849, p. 49-52 M. Frederic Bastiat, member of the French National Assembly, spoke as follows:— Gentlemen, our excellent and learned colleague, M. Coquerel, spoke to us a little while since, of a cruel malady with which French society is afflicted, namely, skepticism. This malady is the fruit of our long dissensions, of our revolutions which have failed to bring about […]

Continue Reading

Gustave de Molinari, The Economic and Socialist Conceptions of the Society of the Future (1899)

The political and economic organisation of society has, hitherto, varied according to the mental equipment of the individual, the risks of destruction threatening each society, the comparative development of production—the conditions of existence, in fine. These conditions have been profoundly modified, particularly during the last century, by the progress which has transformed the arts of production and destruction, until a political and economic organisation suitable to the past is no longer adapted to modern needs. This lack of adaptability may be considered as the first cause of modern socialist propaganda, since it has precipitated a crisis whose effects have chiefly fallen on the class which subsists on the product of its daily toil.

Continue Reading

Frédéric Bastiat, A Petition From the Manufacturers of Candles (1845)

A Petition From the Manufacturers of Candles, inserted in the Sophismes économiques (1845). A Petition From the Manufacturers of Candles, Tapers, Lanterns, sticks, Street Lamps, Snuffers, and Extinguishers, and from Producers of Tallow, Oil, Resin, Alcohol, and Generally of Everything Connected with Lighting. To the Honourable Members of the Chamber of Deputies. Open letter to the French Parliament, originally published in 1845. Gentlemen: You are on the right track. You reject abstract theories and have little regard for abundance and low prices. You concern yourselves mainly with the fate of the producer. You wish to free him from foreign competition, […]

Continue Reading

Charles Coquelin, Capital (1853)

CAPITAL, a politico-economical term. It may be said, in a general way, that capital is the result of accumulation. It is the sum total of values withdrawn from unproductive consumption, and bequeathed to the present by the past.

This definition is exact enough. and is, strictly speaking, sufficient. It agrees with that of J. B. Say, which is as follows: “Capital, in the broadest sense, is an accumulation of values withdrawn from unproductive consumption.” It differs, however, in some respects—if not in substance, at least as to the number and variety of the objects it embraces—from that given by some other economists, and, in certain cases, from that given by J.B. Say himself.

Continue Reading

Gustave de Molinari, The Free constitution of Nationality (1899)

Gustave de Molinari, The Society of Tomorrow: A Forecast of its Political and Economic Organization, New York, 1904. French version : Esquisse de l’organisation politique et économique de la société future, Paris, 1899 Chapter II The Free Constitution of Nationality The first, and by no means least, advance which will follow the establishment of a State of Peace will be free constitution of nationality. All history attests that it was force, and in no sense a voluntary agreement of both parties, which erected the associations called political States; and at this point it may be useful to recapitulate what we […]

Continue Reading

Joseph Garnier, Laissez-faire, laissez-passer (1853)

French version published in the Dictionnaire de l’économie politique, 2 vols., 1852-1853 ; english version published in Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States (1881). LAISSEZ FAIRE—LAISSEZ PASSER. These two formulas, which are frequently met with in economic, political, social and socialistic discussions, were invented by the physiocrates. By laissez faire they mean simply let work, and by laissez passer, allow exchange; in other words, the physiocrates demand, by these phrases, the liberty of labor, and the liberty of commerce. These two phrases have never been used by economists in any other sense; […]

Continue Reading

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).

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading