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struct. If the reader should feel disposed, on account of the difficulty or irksomeness of the task, to recoil from the intellectual labour which the investigation requires; or if he should be inclined to think that the evidence adduced and the reasoning employed are needlessly elaborate, he is exhorted to remember that the clear, beautiful, and satisfying region of truth is not to be attained without passing through the dull and dark region of error and of mist that has been created, and that is constantly being increased, by the bad desires, the misdirected faculties, the baseless aspirations, and the fallible intellect of man; for it is by a moral and social atmosphere thus composed of error and of mist, and created by ourselves, that our condition is now surrounded.
It should ever be kept in mind that the main volume of matter, in this point of quantity, with which an inquirer in the field of social and political science has to deal, is composed of those suggestions, unfounded aspirations, speculations, ideas, and inventions, in number almost incalculable, which men, whose minds have little or no affinity with truth, have planted in the field of science, and have, in a lamentable degree, succeeded in persuading men to receive and uphold as scientific truth. That the proposed course of investigation is an arduous course, has, in every school of science, and in every age of the world, been admitted, and announced as such to learners by teachers. But the difficulty attendant on the course should not be permitted to operate so as to deter or to restrain the honourable, zealous, and confiding inquirer. On the contrary, a knowledge of difficulty should stimulate each inquirer to impart vigour to his efforts, and to increase this vigour until success shall have crowned his labours.
New ways being opened in the science of Social and Political Economy, by means of this work, the writer indulges a hope that other men, attracted and convinced by the
moral and social characteristics that are introduced, as well as by that due arrangement and combination of facts which constitute the material reasoning and argument, will be found to continue in the courses thus newly opened, so that this high and noble science may be deprived of that deformed character, and rescued from that condition of degradation in which, hitherto, it has been presented to the world; for the sacred cause and the sacred spirit of truth demand that it should be declared of this system of Political Economy that its authors and founders, having laboured blindly in the field of science, have presented to the world, by means of it, nothing higher, nobler, or better than an exposition of the science of Selfishness,—a science that has never stood in need of any books to assist its development.
For proving the truth of the words just advanced, and for substantiating the allegation contained, evidence, reasoning, and argument are offered in the following pages.
An estimate of the manner in which the science of Political Economy has been treated, to be derived by an examination of the chief writings. The course commenced by the citation of Adam Smith's work, “The Wealth of Nations.” —Examination of Adam Smith's treatment of the fundamental proposition of the science, the cause of value.— He is shown not to have acquired a knowledge of this great elementary proposition.
ON undertaking to investigate the state in which the science of Social and Political Economy now stands before the people of our own country and of the world in general, it appears to me best to select, for main examination, matter that is contained in the large and highly-esteemed work written by Adam Smith, because, as I have before declared, "The Wealth of Nations" is that work which, above all other works that have been hitherto written on the science, presents the largest volume of important matter.
The reasonings and conclusions advanced by Dr. Smith being made the matter in chief for examination, an opportunity will thus be afforded for bringing forward and comparing the reasonings and conclusions of those other received and influential writers of whom the school of Economists is composed, and of testing the quality of their labours also, by ascertaining the manner in which they have treated the great subjects that are brought under examination. By this course the mind of the reader will be conducted into the main departments of the science. There will be laid open before him the existence of that truth and error by
which the propositions involved in these departments have been treated, so that should he be able to comprehend the subject-matter thus included, and to bestow sufficient attention, he will be enabled of himself to carry onwards the investigation, and to acquire the power of discerning, in other and minor departments of the science, truth and error, and of making the needful separation.
The remark that should first be made on Dr. Smith's great work is, that it contains a judicious attempt to begin at the beginning of the subject, or to lay open and lay down that of which the foundation of the science consists. Thus the author of "The Wealth of Nations" has commenced his work by commenting on the important character of the labour of man. He has shown that all the materials that are provided in nature are destined to be procured by man, and to be made serviceable to him by means of his labour; and then from individual, simple, or unassisted labour he has advanced into united labour, or, as it is called, the division of labour, under which some men pursue one course of industry, and other men other courses; and then, by an exchange of productions so acquired under a division and subdivision of labour or distribution of employment, general advantage is enjoyed.
Having thus perceived the advantage that is ordained to accrue under the principle of a division of labour, a distribution of employment, and an exchange of the commodities acquired by labour, and having discerned that by means of the courses of production and consumption thus established, the progress of man in the improvement of his physical condition, was involved, the author of "The Wealth of Nations" bestowed such insufficient attention and consideration on the important matter thus brought under his observation by his survey of the existing state of things, that he
neglected to mark the particular conditions that are naturally. connected with, and are attendant on, this principle and course of labour and exchange.
Permitting, unfortunately, his view to be unduly limited, and his judgment to be influenced and directed merely by that state of things which he perceived to be existing around him, that is, the general state of human society; and omitting all close observation and accurate reasoning, he chose to assume that the LAW under which man is destined to act is, simply, the law of self-love. In the operations of labour, in the procurement of the materials from the fund of nature, and in the exchange of commodities between men and men, he saw no other principle or motive power than that of individual convenience and individual advantage, or selflove and selfishness. He did not pause for the purpose of considering and ascertaining in what degree or in what manner it is required by natural law that man shall check his self-love, or forego something of self for the advantage of others, and thus realise self-advantage and just progress, by means of social law, or love of, and devotion to, the general welfare.
It is by reason of the undiscovery and unapplication of the great primary law of social construction that the author of "The Wealth of Nations" has advanced on his great work amidst confusion, multiplied error, and contradiction. Having neglected to adopt with his reasoning, and to infuse within his system, the great law of social construction, he adopted unsound and false assumption in its place; and on premises so constituted he founded and reared his system, if that may be called a system in which neither its author, nor any other man, has been able to show coherency and consistency. Thus, we have a system, or a vast compilation of facts, destitute of law by which these facts can be so bound together, or