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Having failed to acquire, as he himself has admitted, a knowledge of a law of right action, of true social principle, he has proceeded to assume that all human association, — all division and subdivision of labour,—all exchange of commodities-are to be influenced and determined solely by that utility or convenience which each man may discern as likely to accrue to himself. Thus he has attempted to make selflove the source of social law. He has substituted individual acquisition and aggrandisement for general utility and sustainment. He has extinguished justness in the character of man, and justice in the actions and transactions of men. He has introduced the principle of confusion in place of the principle of order. He has rejected universal law, or just action, and has adopted in its place free action, or universal selfishness; and then, in proceeding on the development of his system, he has endeavoured to conceal the bad character of his principle, by bestowing upon it the great general title "Utility."
Now, in order to know that of which true morality consists, it is necessary to know, in the first place, the true character of the law of our social existence; for morality, being will and action in conformity with that which is right-and all will and action that is contrary to right being immoral so it is indispensable that a knowledge and a recognition of that which is just and right should precede that action the realisation of which is morality.
It is not a matter which is calculated to excite surprise, that in all human reasoning on the subject of morals, and in every humanly-constructed system of social action and duties, the foundation of morals has not been laid down, for a knowledge has not been acquired of that of which morality really consists; and it is not possible to explain and to demonstrate that which is not discovered and understood. It is the absence of the all-important light, issuing from a
knowledge of moral law, to which I have now adverted, that has caused the constructors of our modern system of Social and Political Economy to introduce into their works contrariant arguments, or arguments which are destructive the one of the other.
On directing attention to that early stage of man's existence and action upon earth which I have now adduced and explained, it will be found very desirable and useful to consider carefully the principle of freedom, or free agency, which is involved in it. By viewing closely the facts of the case, as I have adduced and arranged them, together with the effects resulting from them, we discern that the privilege, possession, and exercise of freedom, are indispensable for enabling man to hold a place amidst a superior order of creatures; or an order, which being endowed with a spiritual and intellectual constitution, enjoyed, in connection with the high privilege of freedom, use all faculties, and opportunities of action, for right or just purposes. Thus, on the one hand, if the privilege of freedom was not possessed, fitness for living with a superior order of creatures could not be established or constituted; and, on the other hand, where the privilege of freedom is abused by assent being withheld from, and opposition offered to, that law which is necessary to be observed for realising the right and required social courses, unfitness for living with the superior order of creatures is proved. As, then, title for the enjoyment of true and just union and communion cannot be constituted or exist, unless the principle of freedom be held and exercised, so title for it is wholly destroyed by that abuse of freedom, or adoption and use of free action, which is evinced by an unlawful application of faculties, power, and means, and the improper use of opportunities.
It is at this stage of the inquiry, that we are necessarily brought to a consideration of the essential character of will
or choice. Without freedom, will or choice could not possess a character derivable in any degree from the being who exhibits desire, adopts will, and exercises choice. If will and choice were wholly impelled by a preceding positive and irresistible cause, power, or necessity, and so deprived of freedom, then will and choice eventuating in action, would be the will and choice, together with the action, of that active and influencing power of will by which it was thus constrained to will, to choose, and to act. It would then constitute passive, necessitated, unintelligent, and irresponsible instrumentality and action; not active, intelligent, trustworthy, and acountable agency.
I have sustained, in this chapter, the exposition of that great though simple principle, which, being the right mainspring of human action, lies at the foundation of the acquisition of property, and with which all property ever has been, and ever must be, connected. Out of this principle or law, issue that by which alone, in the first place, the conjunction of, and, in the next place, the conservation of, human interests can be insured. The principle arises out of the great fact, that it is a primary and also an everlasting ordinance in the providence of God, that man shall derive all the materials with which the earth abounds, and with the appropriation of which he is intrusted, by means of his labour. Hence, it arises, that the law, or the social application and courses of labour, are to be looked to and regarded before the advantages that are offered to us by territorial productiveness or by new acquisitions. That is, we are bound by a solemn moral obligation, and irreversible law, to regard the interest and welfare of those who labour, or are united with us by works of labour, before we propose or attempt to increase our material advantages and enjoyments; or, what we call, develop the matter of the world in those different parts of the world, those varied soils and climates where the desired
matter exists. We are bound, under the natural constitution of things, to discover, develop, and apply the matter of the earth justly or socially, not selfishly. For he who has created, has created diffusively or distributively. Had he not done so, he would not have been a just and sustaining Creator.
He who studies the subject carefully, will discern the true and complete character of the obligation involved. The obligation comprises several parts or duties. In the first place, it involves the fact of relative action, the dependence of one man upon the exertions of another man, and the equal dependence of the other man upon him. Mutuality of labour, mutuality in the exchange of the productions of labour,hence trust and dependence. It involves, next, the fact that parties apply their labour duly, so as to be able to present the required exchangeable commodity the one to the other; for he who will not work or apply his faculty of labour, and that too in a due or required degree, must not expect to enjoy or to eat, to partake of the fruit of another man's labour; for labour is the first and essential condition connected with possession and enjoyment.
The first premiss, or the foundation-matter, which I have laid down, has to be brought into comparison and contrast with that assumed premiss and foundation which has been advanced by the writers of the school of free action, or the prevailing school of Political Economists.
To discover the absence of all solid substance, or the hollowness of which the assumed foundation of the Political Economy of schoolmen consists, the reader has only to examine again, with due care, the words which I have before quoted from "The Wealth of Nations," and by which words the author of that elaborate work has declared his inability to discover, or to construct, a solid and true premiss, or a sound foundation on which to commence the rearing of his social structure.
On having to treat of the first premiss, or the foundation. on which the structure of human association must, in the natural constitution of things, have been reared; and having to make reference to the propensity originally exhibited by man to enter upon a division of labour, and an exchange of the productions of labour, and so to derive and also to confer benefit, the words used, as before quoted, are as follow:"Whether the propensity be one of those original principles in human nature of which no further account can be given; or, whether, as seems more probable, it be the necessary consequence of the faculties of reason and speech, it belongs not to our present subject to inquire."
Now, instead of treating this great and most important part of the subject, which is that of the social principle involved in united labour, and in the united exchange of the productions of labour, in the unbecoming and impotent manner here resorted to, which is that of evading the task of considering, investigating, and proving, by adopting the declaration, that the principle is one of those original principles in human nature, of which no further account can be given than that of merely declaring it to be a fact; and, moreover, that it is a principle into the character of which "it belongs not to his present subject to inquire,-" I maintain that the writer was under a most solemn obligation to have exerted all his intellectual strength towards a discovery of the truth and character of this proposition; and, failing in his attempt to discover and explain, he was under another obligation, equally imperative and solemn, which was that of abstaining from writing on the subject, and so of withholding from the world all reasoning upon it, until he had acquired, by more diligent study, the ability to show the truth, the powerful and enduring character, of the social principle here involved. This latter course, unhappily, he did not adopt; but another course he did, unhappily, adopt.