« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
of the law of salutary and sustaining restraint by the adoption of the FREE principle, he maintains that under the confusion thus produced, will, power, and appetite, combine and conflict; and, just action-organisation and due order, all being neglected and absent, self-destruction and general destruction must eventually ensue.
The following passage clearly expresses, also, the effects that result from the agency of the free principle:-
"And this neglection of degree it is,
That by a pace goes backward, with a purpose
It hath to climb."
As coinciding with this idea I have shown, in the body of my argument, that advancement, improvement, and progress being intended by those who advocate the free principle and free action, which implies the rejection of all consideration of the point of observing wholesome degree, or due proportion, the reverse of general advancement and improvement occurs. That although the few may become richer, acquire increased power, and so become exalted, yet the many are made poorer, lose power, together with all opportunity of acquiring it, and are, against natural law and providential design, oppressed and depressed.
I will here conclude my special comments on the great law the paramount character of which I have now established. I have dwelt upon it long and minutely, because, without a knowledge of this law having been acquired and a conformity with it observed, it serves only to perplex and to confuse that we either write or act on the great subject of the physical condition and prospects of man. He who writes on the science of Social and Political Economy without having acquired a clear perception and a mastery of the law of degree or proportions; without being able to exhibit a definition of proportions by means of a correct application of the principle to the matter
of his reasoning; must himself be aware that he is writing under a weakness of intellectual power, amidst confusion of ideas, and in darkness.
If a man, so writing, gives out his inventions and opinions, or that which he calls his conclusions, to the world without qualifying his annunciation of them by a candid avowal of deficiency, and by a required and judicious caution as to the reception and application of doctrines so insufficiently derived and unsubstantially founded; which announcement and declaration are on all occasions due to the world at large from those who treat of a subject that is only partly and therefore imperfectly investigated; he is guilty of committing a great wrong against the interests of his fellow-men, or against society in general. Impelled by a dishonourable ambition, he attempts to create a character, and to acquire fame, for himself, far beyond what his efforts warrant; pursuing these, his own personal objects, regardless of the injury he may inflict on his country and on mankind.
Further reasoning on the Cause of Value, or that course of exchange and trade by which the law of value is constituted. Erroneous views of the subject entertained by the writers of the modern school of Political Economists.
By means of the evidence and reasoning which are contained in the preceding chapters, I have endeavoured to throw full light on those important primary causes which are ordained to operate for realising the good or prosperous physical condition of man. It is shown that this good or prosperous condition is ordained to be derived from the just and appropriate combination of human labour; and that if this just and appropriate combination be not observed as a necessary elementary law, all the territorial advantages of soil and of climate, or the natural productions of the earth, however varied, however prolific, however abundant, and however desirable and desired, these productions may be, are wholly unavailing for realising an improved general condition of a people; and, further, that the variety, the prolificacy, and the abundance of the natural elements and productions, are only so much the more injurious to the state of man, and detractive of his acquisition and enjoyment, when they are brought into use without the observance of the just and appropriate combination and due proportion to which I have alluded, and of which I have endeavoured to give an explication.
The very important point here alluded to has been recognised, and forcibly stated, by writers on Political Economy,
especially so by Mr. M'Culloch, though in accordance with their defective power, and their habit of incorrect reasoning, they have, one and all, not only lost sight of and deserted, but opposed and rejected, the evidence so especially supplied by themselves. Mr. M'Culloch's passage is as follows:-"The capacity of a country to support and employ labourers is in no degree dependent on advantageousness of situation, richness of soil, or extent of territory. These, undoubtedly, are circumstances of very great importance, and have a powerful influence in determining the rate at which a people advances in the career of wealth and civilisation. But it is obviously not on them, but on the actual amount of the accumulated produce of precious labour, or of capital, applicable to the payment of wages, in the possession of a country, that its power of supporting and employing labourers must depend. A fertile soil affords the means of rapidly increasing capital; but that is all. Before this soil can be cultivated, capital must be provided for the support of the labourers employed upon it, as it must be provided for the support of those engaged in manufactures, or in any other department of industry." *
It is at the very earliest stage of man's advancement into a condition of social union, that we are led to mark the origin of a great elementary principle. This is VALUE. We have to discover and to establish the cause of value. Likewise, we have to take especial care, that this great elementary, or foundation principle, be laid down in truth, and not only in truth, but in purity also, that is, without any admixture with it of matter that does not appertain to it; for it is by not observing this rule of purity, and by mixing up error with truth in their treatment of this elementary
* Principles of Political Economy, by J. R. M'Culloch, p. 377.
the cause of value that our writers on Political Economy have exhibited such a lamentable failure of effort.
Let the thoughtful person consider, if only for a moment, the vast and important meaning that is contained in this word value. It constitutes the element of ALL property, or that by which all mankind, from the poorest and humblest peasant to the most wealth-possessing and powerful monarch, are ordained to be supported. Let value cease, or be taken away, then every member of every civilised nation on earth would be reduced to the necessity of labouring with his own hands for the acquisition of those things that are necessary for sustaining his life. The tree of wealth and civilisation would be withered from its top to its roots.
With regard, then, to this important elementary social process, or that course which constitutes the law of value, I contend that it resides wholly within the influence and operation of demand, or the exchange power which is imparted, and applied to commodities produced by the labour of man. I have shown that commodities, however useful, agreeable, and desirable they may be, cannot be made to derive exchange value, that is, be constituted property or capital, unless a demand be made for them in exchange for other commodities; and I have shown, moreover, that the degree of value is determined by the degree or proportion in which this power or influence of demand exists; that is, the proportion which the supply and demand of commodities bear the one to the other, -relative proportions.
I maintain, therefore, as an incontrovertible proposition, lying at the root of the science of social and commercial economy, and pervading every branch of it in every condition to which a nation may attain, that demand is the cause of value; and I maintain, also, that there is no other