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exchanges and improvements of every kind; and that the capital of nations, like the capital of individual members of nations, can be increased by one course, and by one course only, that is, by the profit accruing in the employment of the possessed capital.
The author of the passage has next alluded to an error of the greatest magnitude, that may be said to be almost universally entertained and advanced. It is, that "what is only transferred is considered as created." Hence, the ignorant and mischief-working idea is cherished, is transmitted from man to man, is carried about in all societies, is made the staple of general conversation, that a nation has only to find new markets, to open new trade with a new country, to acquire an accession of new territory, or new sources of production, and that all which is accomplished under these heads, will constitute addition, or, as Mr. Bentham has rightly called it "creation." On eliciting a just estimate of this notable and prevailing idea, we are led to remember and to apply, as most apposite, the following apophthegm which Lord Bacon adopted from Solomon, and applied to common life; viz. "the fool putteth to more strength; but the wise man considereth which way." Bentham has here pointed out the two ways the backward way of the fool, and the forward of the wise man.
The reader will discern, by an attentive examination of the passage here presented to him, that the "great truth" thus enunciated by Bentham, is precisely that principle and truth which constitutes the main feature of the system of national and international commerce which I have maintained as the only true system which the laws of Social and Political Economy, when understood, are found to authorise; the law and course of this system being, that new trade, improvements, and changes of every kind, are to be undertaken and
accomplished only by means of new, or surplus, capital; this capital coming by means of profit, or the increase arising from the due or judicious employment of pre-existing capital.
I have now, however, to call attention to another, a very different, and as regards what ought to be, a very extraordinary feature, but, as regards what is, a feature, unhappily, of too ordinary occurrence. This is, that the author of the important matter which has just been under consideration, although he had conceived in his mind that which he so justly called "a great, important, though too much neglected truth," yet is found to have been guilty himself of that very neglect which he so pointedly stigmatised; for he, Mr. Bentham, stands before the world as having wholly separated himself from the influence and operation of that great and important truth which he himself enunciated and so strongly enforced. He allowed himself, under the intoxication wrought upon him by the senseless love of free action, to be led out of the solid, straight, and wise way thus partially discerned and laid down by him; and into those unsolid, undefined, undefinable, confused, and self-contravening courses which are presented by Adam Smith's system of free trade, or that nescientific and horrid abortion abortion against which all nature revoltsa System without a Law.
The true and false principle of general commerce tested by the application to them of an extreme proposition. — By the backward working of the extreme proposition, there is shown to be necessitated the constant operation of the Law of Union amidst the circumstances, or over the capital, of the people of all nations.
THE immense amount of human interest that is involved in that particular branch of Social Science which is now under discussion, renders it desirable that no method should be neglected, by which the character both of the true and of the false principle should be tried.
Although I am convinced that no additional proof is really needed than that which I have already established, yet, in consideration of the weighty interest and the surpassing importance of the subject, as well as in consideration of the fact, that the false principle is the principle generally believed in, and acted upon, as true, I will have recourse to another, or an additional, method of trying both principles.
The method to which I allude is the adducement of an EXTREME proposition, and the application of this extreme proposition to the subject-matter under discussion. It will be discerned by every person whose mind has been duly exercised on courses of correct and comprehensive reasoning, that truth can never be overworked nor overloaded by its own issues. As it is not possible, then, that an unconnected and unsustainable conclusion can issue from true premises, so, if an extreme conclusion be adduced, and if this extreme proposition or conclusion cannot be sustained by the
legitimate or due course of reasoning, proof is given that the conclusion is not true; and, likewise, that the course of reasoning which has been assumed as true, and by which it is professedly derived, is, in fact, false.
Now, the notion that has so largely occupied the minds of men in general, and engaged the attention, and received the support, of statesmen, as well during the present, as during preceding epochs, is this a deficiency prevailing in the matter that is adapted and required for sustaining the life of man, that is, the element of simple food. Seeing, admitting, and lamenting this deficiency, the attention of almost all men has been, and is now, directed to the course that is necessary to be pursued for repairing this deficiency, or procuring a larger or an adequate supply of the matter required for food, and stimulating and increasing production, in every possible way and to any extent, is the course admitted, recommended, and adopted.
I have been engaged in showing that an error of a most enormous and fatal character lurks in this notion and conclusion; and in contradiction of the assertions that are made respecting this notion, I have maintained that a law of proportions being applicable to production, hence, that injury, instead of benefit, results to human interests by production being worked beyond a given degree, or in excess, or in a wrong direction; so that enjoyment of adequate provision is withdrawn from many old members, and withheld from many new ones; that is, an existing population is not properly maintained, and, on an increase to this population being added, a worse general condition is necessitated.
The extreme proposition which I will now construct and apply, for the purpose of further establishing the soundness of the principle of proportionate production as applicable to the operation of labour, the productions of labour, or those
exchanges which human commerce comprises, and for showing, at the same time, the unsoundness and falseness of the principle of FREE production, or production educed regardless of all proportion and degree, shall be derived from the most important commodity that enters into the exchanges of men, the commodity of which bread is made, namely, Wheat. Connecting my example with the circumstances of our own country, I will suppose that on a given day there shall descend, from supernatural sources, streams of wheat in every part of the country; that the quantity thus supplied shall exceed the quantity that is already grown and possessed, and so be more than is required for satisfying the need which the whole people have of this essential commodity.
Now, under the altered state of facts which is thus educed with regard to this important article of food, it will be obvious that every person in the nation will have a sufficiency of this commodity without buying or demanding any portion of that which has been grown, and is ready for sale in the hands either of the producers or the purveyors and dealers Thus, every person in the kingdom, high and low, rich and poor, will have a sufficiency of this important raw commodity, without having to give anything in exchange, or to pay any price whatever for it. There must, of necessity, therefore, be an instantaneous cessation of demand for all that great and valuable body of production or capital which consists of wheat. This must be the first action or effect. The next operation must be that demand ceases, likewise, for all those commodities which are purchased by those members of the community whose capital is invested in the production wheat and by the labourers whose wages depend upon the continued cultivation of the land for the purpose of raising wheat. Then, again, further action of a similar backward character must ensue in the case of all