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as he did treat it, the author of "The Wealth of Nations" involved himself in a labyrinth, from which it was not possible that he should accomplish an extrication. His disciples having followed, for the main part, the course laid down by their master, became involved in the same labyrinth; and, though now and then discerning that they were not on the right track, and protesting partially against the course their master had laid down, and evincing an apprehension that they were following a blind leader, yet were unable to make a more successful discovery than their leader had done, of the right way.
Writers on the science of Social Economy having failed in their attempts to discover completely the cause of value, and having deserted the track of VALUE, have chosen to adopt in its place, gross production. They have taken as their only guide, QUANTITY. Now, a more fatal error than this could not have been adopted. The French Economist, J. B. Say, discerned the fact to which I have here alluded. His comment on the creation of value is most admirable. It is as follows:-"We must conclude, then, that wealth, which consists in the VALUE that human industry, in aid and furtherance of natural agents, communicates to things, is susceptible of creation and destruction, of increase and diminution, within the limits of each nation, and independent of external agency, according to the method it adopts to bring about those effects. An important truth, which ought to teach mankind that the objects of rational desire are within their reach, provided they have the will and the intelligence to employ the true means of obtaining them.” *
The reader will discern that M. Say, in the passage just cited, has referred, not only to the course by which the creation of value is realised, but also to the course by which its
* Principles of Political Economy, by J. B. Say, translated by Prinsep, book 1, ch. ii. p. 25.
destruction is realised. It will be useful for the student to apply to the great problem, under construction, the two methods of reasoning; firstly, that of synthesis, by means of which composition, or construction, is to be worked, this being the highest and noblest method; secondly, that of analysis, by means of which decomposition, or separation, is to be worked. He will then discover, as, indeed, every really scientific man must know before, that the uncreation, or destruction of value, ensues by a reversal of that course, or process, that was necessary for its creation.
The last sentence of M. Say's matter deserves to be written in letters of gold, and to be placed before the view of every thinker and writer, as the beacon towards which he has to advance.
The observing reader will, however, naturally ask how it has happened that M. Say could have made the great discovery, that ample sufficiency for the maintenance and comfort of man is provided by the Creator within the province of nature, and that it is only required that man shall use these vast means well, or lawfully, in order to insure, and that with ease, the due enjoyment of all men, whilst, at the same time, he has failed, like all other writers on Social and Political Economy, to show, by word, or by clearly-defined courses of induction, that which he has declared men ought to do and can do, by will, act, and deed? The answer to this question is to be derived only from those historic pages which contain, unhappily, an ample record of human fallibility.
With regard to the theory of the cause of value, which I have worked out in this chapter, ample opportunity will be afforded hereafter for testing its validity; because, in almost every course of reasoning which I shall have to pursue, the theory must, necessarily, constitute the most essential, or chief. element of the matter treated of.
The course which I have maintained as being the course necessary for constituting the cause of value, involves a course of social commercial action to which the minds of men, in general, have been unhappily, in all ages and in all nations, greatly opposed; and, perhaps, in no preceding age have greater repugnance and opposition been evinced towards it, than in the present age. I have had to show, that in order to bring about a creation of value, in order to preserve that amount of value which has already been created, and in order to insure a new creation of value, and so to increase the national capital, by means of which capital all the people of a nation can alone derive a maintenance, it is necessary that the people in general should be actuated by a desire to invent, adopt, and fulfil such courses of trade or exchanges as shall insure that continued demand for the productions of labour as shall be necessary for keeping all in well-remunerated employment; that they should consent to forego new enjoyments, advantages, and changes of every kind, that are not warranted by the state of the general capital, that is, procurable by means of the increased capital which has been acquired and added to the general stock. This adoption of changes on the one hand, and avoidance of changes on the other hand, indicated, as the one or other course must be, by the state of the national capital, is applicable equally to changes made by a nation in relationship with its own people, as with the people of foreign countries.
I have now worked out a definition of the Cause of Value. I have endeavoured to construct this definition as clearly and as minutely as is possible, because I know that in this substantial and important rudiment of social and commercial science, there is contained that elementality on which the maintenance of men and of families, in every nation of the world, is ordained to depend.
The question of the effects of abandoning a Home Trade and substituting a Foreign Trade in its place, tried. — The course necessary for effecting the change shown to result in a diminution of the wealth of the people of both nations who may be concerned in making the change. The notion that an amalgamation of the wealth and interest of the people of all the nations of the world can be beneficially accomplished, shown to be a false notion.
THE problem which I propose to treat of, and to solve, in this chapter, is that great problem of the science of Social and Commercial Economy, by which, hitherto, the efforts of every writer on Political Economy have been baffled; these efforts having fallen back upon their enunciators with a force that has destroyed the whole structure of their reasoning. The problem is- The result to a nation of the abandonment of any given home trade and the substitution of a foreign trade in its place.
The reader will remember, that in the course of my analytical argument I showed that this problem stands, up to the present moment, an unsolved problem in the field of economical science. A special effort to solve it having been made by Adam Smith, both Ricardo and M'Culloch joined in this effort, being at variance with the founder of the science; and that I showed, moreover, that the combined effort thus made is placed before us a recorded failure, this failure being of a character the most remarkable; for although, by the correct arrangement of facts or absolute proof which I propose to establish, it will be shown that Adam Smith's conclusion respecting this great problem is right, and the conclu
sion of Ricardo and M'Culloch is wrong, yet it is shown, likewise, that Adam Smith's conclusion is merely a conclusion derived by conjecture and superficial observation, the writer not having arrived at it by any series of consecutive reasoning; and, moreover, it being a conclusion wholly adverse to those general conclusions which he has advanced as the main result of his labours.
As the problem is of such deep and lasting importance, it will be necessary that I should treat of it in a manner as minute and careful as possible. Hence the reader, in accompanying me through the course of demonstration, must exercise great patience; must have prepared himself for holding in his memory, and using and arranging by his reasoning faculty, a very large amount of distinct, as well as of combined, facts. I will now enter upon a solution of the problem.
By the evidence which I have already educed and arranged, that process of commercial and economic action is shown, by which communities of men make such advancement in labour, and industry in union, or united labour and industry-in wealth, in civilisation, and in power, as constitutes them a nation.
If, commencing his career upon one spot on the surface of our globe, man, uniting himself with his fellow-man by means of the division and subdivision of employment — the just combination of labour or the general working for each other, which I have described, had then continued an unbroken connexion of family with family, cultivating the earth, modifying and moulding the varied materials which the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms offered, into commodities adapted for the uses, conveniences, and comforts of human life, and so preserved an unbroken series of exchanges and support, or a continuity of commercial relationship, all the people of the world would have constituted one nation