The legislator, if he be truly wise, will not begin by writing down laws very good in the abstract, but will first look about to see whether the people for whom he intends them is capable of upholding them. He must bear in mind many considerations—the situation of the country—the nature of the soil—the density of the population—the national history, occupations, and aptitudes.
Among these considerations one of the most important is the area of the state. As nature has given limits to the stature of a normal man, beyond she makes only giants or dwarfs, there are also limits beyond which a state is, in the one direction, too large to be well-governed, and, in the other, too small to maintain itself. There is in every body politic a maximum of force which cannot be exceeded, and from which the state often falls away by the process of enlarging itself. The further the social bond is extended, the slacker it becomes; and, in general, a small state is proportionately stronger than a large one.
It is true that a state must have a certain breadth of base for the sake of solidity, and in order to resist violent shocks from without. But, on the other hand, administration becomes more troublesome with distance. It increases in burdensomeness, moreover, with the multiplication of degrees. Each town, district, and province, has its administration, for which the people must pay. Finally, overwhelming everything, is the remote central administration. Again the government in a large state has less vigour and swiftness than in a smaller one; the people have less affection for their chiefs, their country, and for each other—since they are, for the most part, strangers to each other. Uniform laws are not suitable for diverse provinces. Yet diverse laws among people belonging to the same state, breed weakness and confusion, for a healthy and well-knit constitution, in brief, it is wiser to count upon the vigour that is born of good government than upon the resources supplied by greatness of territory.
The greatest good of all, which should be the aim of every system of legislation, may, on investigation, be reduced to two main objects, liberty and equality: liberty, because all dependence of individuals on other individuals is so much force taken away from the body of the state; equality, because without it liberty cannot exist.
But these general objects of every good institution should be regulated in every country in accord with its situation and the character of its inhabitants. Nations with rich territories, for example, should be led to devote themselves to agriculture; manufacturing industry should be left to sterile lands. That which renders the constitution of the state genuinely solid and endurable is the judicious adaptation of laws to natural conditions. A conflict between the two tends to destruction; but when the laws are in sympathy with the natural conditions, when they keep in touch with them, and improve them, the state should prosper.
Every free action has two causes which concur to produce it: one of them the will that determines upon the act, the other the power that performs it. In the political body, one must distinguish between these two—the legislative power and the executive power. The executive power cannot belong to the sovereign, inasmuch as executive acts are particular acts, aimed at individuals, and therefore, as already explained, outside the sovereign's sphere. Public force, then, requires an agent to apply it, according to the direction of the general will. This is the government, erroneously confounded with the sovereign, of which it is only the minister. It is an intermediary body, established between subject and sovereign for their mutual correspondence, charged with the execution of the laws and the maintenance of civil and political liberty.
The magistrates who form the government may be numerous, or may be few; and, generally speaking, the fewer the magistrates the stronger the government. A magistrate has three wills: his personal will, his will as one of the governors, and his will as a member of the sovereign. The last named is the weakest, the first named the most powerful. If there is only one governor, the two stronger wills are concentrated in one man; with a few governors, they are concentrated in few men; when the government is in the hands of all the citizens, the second will is obliterated, and the first widely distributed, and the government is consequently weak. On the other hand, where there are many governors, the government will be more readily kept in correspondence with the general will. The duty of the legislator is to hit the happy medium at which the government, while not failing in strength, is yet properly submissive to the sovereign.
The sovereign may, in the first place, entrust the government to the whole people, or the greater part of them; this form is called democracy. Or it may be placed in the hands of a minority, in which case it is called the aristocracy. Or it may be concentrated in the hands of a single magistrate, from whom all the others derive their power; this is called monarchy.
It may be urged, on behalf of democracy, that those who make the laws know better than anybody how they should be interpreted and administered. But it is not right that the makers of the laws should execute them, nor that the main body of the people should turn its attention from general views to particular objects. Nothing is more dangerous than the influence of private interests on public affairs. A true democracy, in the rigorous sense of the term, never has existed and never will. A people composed of gods would govern itself democratically. A government so perfect is unsuited to men.
There are three forms of aristocracy: natural, elective, and hereditary. The first is only adapted to simple people; the third is the worst of all governments; the second is the best of all. By the elective method, probity, sagacity, experience, and all other sources of preference and public esteem afford guarantees that the community will be wisely governed.
The first defect of monarchy is that it is to the interests of the monarch to keep the people in a state of misery and weakness, so that they may be unable to resist his power. Another is that under a monarchy the posts of honour are occupied by bunglers and rascals who win their promotion by petty court intrigue. Again, an elective monarchy is a cause of disorder whenever a king dies; and a hereditary monarchy leaves the character of the king to chance, which, as everything tends to deprive of justice and reason a man trained to supreme rule, generally goes astray.
The question as to whether there is any sign by which we can tell whether a people is well or ill governed readily admits of a solution. What is the surest token of the preservation and prosperity of a political community? It is to be found in the population. Other things being equal, the government under which, without extrinsic devices, without naturalisation, without colonies, the citizens increase and multiply, is infallibly the best. Calculators, it is therefore your affair; count, measure, compare.
As particular wills strive unceasingly against the general will, so the government makes a continual attack upon the sovereign. If the government is able, by its efforts, to usurp the sovereignty, then the social contract is broken; the citizens, who have by right been thereby restored to their natural liberty, may be forced to obey the usurper, but are under no other obligation to do so.
Since the sovereign has no power except its legislative authority, it only acts by laws; and since the laws are simply the authentic acts of the general will, the sovereign cannot act save when the people are assembled. It is essential that there should be definitely fixed periodic assemblies of the people that cannot be abolished or delayed, so that on the appointed day the people would be legitimately convoked by the law, without need of any formal summons.
I may be asked, how are the citizens of a large state, composed of many communities, to hold frequent meetings? I reply that it is useless to quote the disadvantages of large states to one who considers that all states ought to be small. But how are small states to defend themselves against large ones? By confederation, after the manner of the Greek and ancient times, and the Dutch and Swiss in times more modern.
But between the sovereign authority and arbitrary government there is sometimes introduced a middle power of which I ought to speak. As soon as the public service ceases to be the main interest of the citizens, as soon as they prefer to serve their purses rather than themselves, the state is nearing its ruin. The weakening of patriotism, the activity of private interests, the immensity of states, conquests, and the abuse of government, have led to the device of deputies or representatives of the people in the national assemblies. But sovereignty cannot be represented, even as it cannot be alienated; it consists essentially in the general will, and the will is not ascertainable by representation; it is either itself, or something else; there is no middle course. A law not ratified by the people in person is no law at all. The English people believes itself free, but it greatly deceives itself; it is not so, except during the election of members of parliament. As soon as they are elected, it is enslaved, it is nothing.
How are we to conceive the act by which the government is instituted? The first process is the determination of the sovereign, that the government shall assume such and such a form; this is the establishment of a law. The second process is the nomination by the people of those to whom the government is to be entrusted; this is not a law, but a particular act, a function of government.
How, then, can we have an act of government before the government exists? How can the people, who are only sovereigns or subjects, become magistrates under certain circumstances? Here we discover one of those astonishing properties of the body politic, by which it reconciles operations apparently contradictory; for the process is accomplished by a sudden conversion from sovereignty to democracy, so that, with no sensible change, and simply by a new relation of all to all, the citizens become magistrates, pass from general to partiacts, and from the law to its execution. In this manner the English House of Commons resolves itself into committee, and thus becomes a simple commission of the sovereign court which it was a moment before; afterwards reporting to itself, as House of Commons, as to its proceedings in the form of a committee.
It is a logical sequence of the Social Contract that in the assemblies of the people the voice of the majority prevails. The only law requiring unanimity is the contract itself. But how can a man be free and at the same time compelled to submit to laws to which he has not consented? I reply that when a law is proposed in the popular assembly, the question put is not precisely whether the citizens approve or disapprove of it, but whether it conforms or not to the general will. The minority, then, simply have it proved to them that they estimated the general will wrongly. Once it is declared, they are as citizens participants in it, and as subjects they must obey it.
Religion, in its relation to society, can be divided into two kinds—the religion of the man, and that of the citizen. The first, without temples, without altars, without rites, limited to the inner and private worship of the Supreme God, and to the eternal duties of morality, is the pure and simple religion of the Evangel, the true theism. The other, established in one country only, gives that country its own gods, its own tutelary patrons; it has its own dogmas and ritual, and all foreigners are deemed to be infidels. Such were all the religions of the primitive peoples.
There is a third and more eccentric kind of religion, which, giving men two legislations, two chiefs, two countries, imposes upon them contradictory duties, and forbids them from being at the same time devotees and patriots. Such is the religion of the Llamas; such is the religion of the Japanese; such is Roman Christianity.
Politically considered, all these kinds have their defects. The third is so manifestly bad that one need waste no time upon it. That which breaks social unity is worthless. The second is good, in that it inculcates patriotism, makes it a religious duty to serve the state. But it is founded on error and falsehood, and renders its adherents superstitious, intolerant, and cruel. The first, the religion of man, or Christianity, is a sublime and true religion by which men, children of one god, acknowledge each other as brethren, and the society that unites them does not dissolve even with death. But Christianity of itself is not calculated to strengthen a nation; it teaches submissiveness, and discourages patriotic pride.
Now it is of prime importance to the state that each citizen should have a religion which teaches him to love his duty; but the state is only concerned with religion so far as it teaches morality and the duty of man towards his neighbour. Beyond that, the sovereign has nothing to do with a man's religious opinions.
There should, therefore, be a purely civil profession of faith, the articles of which are to be fixed by the sovereign, not precisely as religious dogmas, but as sentiments of sociability, without which it is impossible for a man to be a good citizen or a faithful subject. Without being able to compel anybody to believe the articles, the sovereign could banish from the state anybody who did not believe them; it can banish him, not as impious, but as unsociable, as incapable of sincerely loving laws and justice. If anyone, having publicly accepted these dogmas, should act as if he did not believe them, he should be punished with death; he would have committed the greatest of crimes, that of lying against the laws.
The dogmas of the civil religion should be simple, few, precise, without explanations or commentaries. The existence of a powerful, wise, benevolent, provident, and bountiful Deity, the life to come, the happiness of the just, the punishment of the wicked, the sanctity of the social contract, and the laws; these are the positive dogmas. As for negative dogmas, I limit them to one; I would have every good citizen forswear intolerance in religion.
After having laid down the true principles of political rights, and sought to place the state upon its proper basis, it should remain to support it by its external relations—international law, commerce, and so on. But this forms a new aim too vast for my limited view; I have had to fix my eyes on objects nearer at hand.
Wealth of Nations
Adam Smith, greatest of discoverers in the science of Political Economy, was born at Kirkcaldy, Scotland, on June 5, 1723, after the death of his father, who had been Comptroller of Customs at that port. He was educated at Kirkcaldy Grammar School, then at Glasgow University, and finally at Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied for seven years. From 1748 he resided in Edinburgh, where he made a close friendship with David Hume, and gave a course of lectures on literature; in 1751 he became professor of Logic in Glasgow University, and in the following year professor of Moral Philosophy. A philosophical treatise entitled "A Theory of Moral Sentiments," published in 1759, has no longer any interest; but it was during his thirteen years' residence in Glasgow that Smith arrived at the principles formulated in his immortal "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations." He left Glasgow in 1763 to become the tutor of the youthful Duke of Buccleuch, with whom he lived at Toulouse, Geneva and Paris, studying the politics and economics of France on the eve of the Revolution. In 1766 Adam Smith retired to Kirkcaldy, with an annuity from the Buccleuch family; devoted himself to his life's work; and in 1776 published the "Wealth of Nations," which at once achieved a permanent reputation. The author was appointed, in 1778, Commissioner of Customs for Scotland, and died on July 17, 1790. Adam Smith was a man of vast learning and of great simplicity and kindliness of character. His reasonings have had vast influence not only on the science of Economics but also on practical politics; his powerful defence of free trade, and his indictment of the East India Company have especially modified the history of his country.
I.—Labour and Its Produce
The division of labour has been the chief cause of improvement in the productiveness of labour. For instance, the making of a single pin involves eighteen separate operations, which are entrusted to eighteen separate workmen; and the result is, that whereas one man working alone could only make perhaps twenty pins in a day, several men working together, on the principle of division of labour, can make several thousands of pins per man in one day. Division of labour, in a highly developed state of society, is carried into almost every practical art; and its great benefits depend upon the increase of dexterity in each workman, upon the saving of time otherwise lost in passing from one kind of work to another, and finally, upon the use of many labour-saving machines, which is made possible by the division of labour.
This division of labour, from which so many advantages are derived, is not originally the effect of any human wisdom which foresees and intends the opulence to which it gives rise; it is rather the gradual result of the propensity, in human nature, to barter and exchange one thing for another. The power of exchanging their respective produce makes it possible for one man to produce only bread, and for another to produce only clothing. The extent to which the division of labour can be carried is therefore limited by the extent of the market. There are some sorts of industry, even of the lowest kind, which can be carried on nowhere but in a great town; a porter, for example, cannot find employment and subsistence in a village. In the highlands of Scotland every farmer must be butcher, baker, and brewer for his own family.
As water-carriage opens a more extensive market to every kind of industry than is afforded by land-carriage, it is on the sea coast and on the banks of navigable rivers, that industry begins to subdivide and improve itself, and it is riot till long afterwards that these improvements extend to the inland parts. It was thus that the earliest civilised nations were grouped round the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea; and the extent and easiness of its inland navigation was probably the chief cause of the early improvement of Egypt.
As soon as the division of labour is well established, every man becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society becomes a commercial society; and the continual process of exchange leads inevitably to the origin of money. In the absence of money or a general medium of exchange, society would be restricted to the cumbersome method of barter. Every man therefore would early endeavour to keep by him, besides the produce of his own industry, a certain quantity of some commodity such as other people will be likely to take in exchange for the produce of their particular industries. Cattle, for example, have been widely used for this purpose in primitive societies, and Homer speaks of a suit of armour costing a hundred oxen.
But the durability of metals, as well as the facility with which they can be subdivided, has led to their employment, in all countries, as the means of exchange; and in order to obviate the necessity of weighing portions of the metals at every purchase, as well as to prevent fraud, it has been found necessary to affix a public stamp upon certain quantities of the metals commonly used to purchase goods. The value of commodities thus comes to be expressed in terms of coinage.
But labour is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities; the value of any commodity to the person who possesses it is equal to the quantity of labour which it enables him to purchase or to command. What is bought with money or with goods is purchased by labour as much as what we acquire by the toil of our own body. "Labour alone, never varying in its own value, is alone the ultimate and real standard by which the value of all commodities can at all times and in all places be estimated and compared. It is their real price; money is their nominal price only. Equal quantities of labour will at distant times be purchased more nearly with equal quantities of corn, the subsistence of the labourer, than with equal quantities of gold, or of any other commodity."
Several elements enter into the price of commodities. In a nation of hunters, if it costs twice the labour to kill a beaver which it costs to kill a deer, one beaver will be worth two deer. But if the one kind of labour be more severe than the other, some allowance will naturally be made for this superior hardship; and thirdly, if one kind of labour requires an uncommon degree of dexterity and ingenuity, it will command a higher value than that which would be due to the time employed in it. So far, the whole produce of labour belongs to the labourer.
But as soon as stock has accumulated in the hands of particular persons, some of them will employ it in setting to work industrious workmen, whom they will supply with materials and subsistence, in order to make a profit by the sale of their work. The profits of stock are not to be regarded as the wages of a particular sort of labour, the labour of inspection and direction; for they are regulated altogether by the value of the stock employed, and are greater or smaller in proportion to the extent of this stock.
There is in every society or neighbourhood an ordinary or average rate both of wages and profit in every different employment of labour and stock; and this rate is regulated partly by the general circumstances of the society, its richness or poverty, and partly by the peculiar nature of each employment. There is also in every society or neighbourhood an ordinary or average rate of rent, which is regulated too by the general circumstances of the society or neighbourhood in which the land is situated, and partly by the natural or improved fertility of the land. What we may call the natural price of any commodity depends upon these natural rates of wages, profit and rent, at the place where it is produced. But its market price may be above, below, or identical with its natural price, and depends upon the proportion between the supply and the demand.
II.—Nature, Accumulation, and Employment of Stock
When the stock which a man possesses is no more than sufficient to maintain him for a few days or weeks, he seldom thinks of deriving any revenue from it; but when he possesses enough to maintain him for months or years, he endeavours to derive a revenue from the greater part of it. The part of his stock from which he expects to derive revenue is called his capital.
There are two ways in which capital may be employed so as to yield a profit to its employer. First, it may be employed in raising, manufacturing, or purchasing goods, and selling them again with a profit; this is circulating capital. Secondly, it may be employed in the improvement of land, or in the purchase of machines and instruments; and this capital, which yields a profit from objects which do not change masters, is called fixed capital.
The general stock of any country or society is the same as that of all its inhabitants or members, and is therefore divided into the same three portions, each of which has a different function. The first is the portion which is reserved for immediate consumption, and so affords no revenue or profit. The second is the fixed capital, which consists of
(a) all useful machines and instruments of trade which facilitate and abridge labour;
(b) all profitable buildings, which procure a revenue, not only to their owner, but also to the person who rents them, such as shops, warehouses, farmhouses, factories, &c.;
(c) the improvements of land, and all that has been laid out in clearing, draining, enclosing, manuring, and reducing it into the condition most proper for culture; and
(d) the acquired and useful abilities of all the inhabitants or members of the society, for the acquisition of such talents, by the maintenance of the learner during his education or apprenticeship, costs a real expense, which is a capital fixed in his person.
The third and last of the three portions into which the general stock of the society naturally divides itself is the circulating capital, which affords a revenue only by changing masters. It includes
(a) all the money by means of which all the other three are circulated and distributed to their proper consumers;
(b) all the stock of provisions which are in the possession of the butcher, farmer, corn-merchant, &c., and from the sale of which they expect to derive a profit;
(c) all the materials, whether altogether rude, or more or less manufactured, for clothes, furniture and building, which are not yet made up into any of these shapes, but remain in the hands of the growers, manufacturers and merchants; and
(d) all the work which is made up and completed, but is not yet disposed of to the proper consumers.
The substitution of paper in the place of gold and silver money replaces a very expensive instrument of commerce by one much less costly, and sometimes equally convenient. Circulation comes to be carried on by a new wheel, which it costs less both to erect and to maintain than the old one. The effect of the issue of large quantities of bank-notes in any country is to send abroad the gold, which is no longer needed at home, in order that it may seek profitable employment. It is not sent abroad for nothing, but is exchanged for foreign goods of various kinds in such a way as to add to the revenue and profits of the country from which it is sent; unless, indeed, it is spent abroad on such goods as are likely to be consumed by idle people who produce nothing.
III.—The Progress of Opulence in Different Nations
The greatest commerce of every civilised society is that carried on between the inhabitants of the town and those of the country. It consists in the exchange of rude for manufactured produce, either immediately, or by the intervention of money, or of some sort of paper which represents money. The country supplies the town with the means of subsistence, and the materials for manufacture. The town repays this supply by sending back a part of the manufactured produce to the inhabitants of the country. The town, in which there neither is nor can be any reproduction of substances, may very properly be said to gain its whole subsistence from the country. And in how great a degree the country is benefited by the commerce of the town may be seen from a comparison of the cultivation of the lands in the neighbourhood of any considerable town with that of those which He at some distance from it.
As subsistence is, in the nature of things, prior to conveniency and luxury, so the rural industries which procure the former must be prior to the urban industries which minister to the latter. The greater part of the capital of every growing society is therefore first directed to agriculture, afterwards to manufactures, and last of all to foreign commerce. But this natural order of things has, in all the modern states of Europe, been in many respects entirely inverted. The foreign commerce of some of their cities has given rise to their finer manufactures, and manufactures and foreign commerce together have given birth to the principal improvements of agriculture. The manners and customs which the nature of their original government introduced, and which remained after that government was greatly altered, necessarily forced them into this unnatural and retrograde order.
In the ancient state of Europe, after the fall of the Roman Empire, agriculture was greatly discouraged by several causes. The rapine and violence which the barbarians exercised against the ancient inhabitants interrupted the commerce between the towns and the country; the towns were deserted and the country was left uncultivated. The western provinces of Europe sank into the lowest state of poverty, and the land, which was mostly uncultivated, was engrossed by a few great proprietors.
These lands might in the natural course of events have been soon divided again, and broken into small parcels by succession or by alienation; but the law of primogeniture hindered their division by succession, and the introduction of entails prevented their being divided by alienation. These hindrances to the division and consequently to the cultivation of the land were due to the fact that land was considered as the means not of subsistence merely, but of power and protection. In those disorderly times, every great landlord was a sort of petty prince.
Unfortunately these laws of primogeniture and entail have continued long after the circumstances which gave rise to them have disappeared. Unfortunately, because it seldom happens that a great landlord is a great improver. To improve land with profit requires an exact attention to small savings and small gains, of which a man born to a great fortune is seldom capable. And if little improvement was to be expected from the great proprietors, still less was to be hoped for from those who occupied the land under them. In the ancient state of Europe, the occupiers of land were all tenants at will, and practically slaves. To these succeeded a kind of farmers known at present in France by the name of "metayers," whose produce was divided equally between the proprietor and the farmer, after setting aside what was judged necessary for keeping up the stock, which still belonged to the landlord. To these, in turn, succeeded, though by very slow degrees, farmers properly so called, who cultivated the land with their own stock, paying a fixed rent to the landlord, and enjoying a certain degree of security of tenure. And every improvement in the position of the actual cultivation of the soil is attended by a corresponding improvement of the land and of its cultivation.
After the fall of the Roman empire the inhabitants of cities and towns were not more favoured than those of the country. The towns were inhabited chiefly by tradesmen and mechanics, who were in those days of servile, or nearly servile condition. Yet the townsmen arrived at liberty and independence much earlier than the country population; their towns became "free burghs," and were erected into commonalities or corporations, with the privilege of having magistrates and a town council of their own, of making by-laws for their own government and of building walls for their own defence. Order and good government, and the liberty and security of individuals, were thus established in cities at a time when the occupiers of land in the country were exposed to every sort of violence.
The increase and riches of commercial and manufacturing towns thenceforward contributed to the improvement and cultivation of the countries to which they belonged, in three different ways. First, by affording a great and ready market for the rude produce of the country. Secondly, the wealth acquired by the inhabitants of cities was employed in purchasing uncultivated lands and in bringing them under cultivation; for merchants are ambitious of becoming country gentlemen, and when they do so, are generally the best of all improvers. And lastly, commerce and manufactures gradually introduced order and good government, and with them the liberty and security of individuals, among the inhabitants of the country.
IV.—The Mercantile System
From the mistaken theory that wealth consists in money, or in gold and silver, there has arisen an erroneous and harmful system of political economy and of legislation in the supposed interests of manufacture, of commerce, and of the wealth of nations. A rich country is supposed to be a country abounding in money; and all the nations of Europe have consequently studied, though to little purpose, every possible means of accumulating gold and silver in their respective countries. For example, they have at times forbidden, or hindered by heavy duties, the export of these metals. But all these attempts are vain; for on the one hand, when the quantity of gold and silver imported into any country exceeds the effectual demand, no vigilance can prevent their exportation; and on the other hand, if gold and silver should fall short in a country, there are more expedients for supplying their place than that of any other commodity. The real inconvenience which is commonly called "scarcity of money" is not a shortness in the medium of exchange, but is a weakening and diminution of credit, due to over-trading. Money is part of the national capital, but only a small part and always the most unprofitable part of it.
The principle of the "commercial system" or "mercantile system" is, that wealth consists in money, or in gold and silver. It is an utterly untrue principle. But once it had been established in general belief that wealth consists in gold and silver, and that these metals can be brought into a country which has no mines only by the "balance of trade," that is to say, by exporting to a greater value than it imports, it necessarily became the great object of political economy to diminish as much as possible the importation of foreign goods for home consumption, and to increase as much as possible the exportation of the produce of domestic industry. Its two great engines for enriching the country, therefore, were restraints upon importation and encouragements to exportation.
The restraints upon importation were of two kinds: first, restraints upon the importation of such foreign goods for home consumption as could be produced at home, from whatever country they were imported; and secondly, restraints upon the importation of goods of almost all kinds from those particular countries with which the balance of trade was supposed to be disadvantageous. These different restraints consisted sometimes in high duties, and sometimes in absolute prohibitions.
Exportation was encouraged sometimes by drawbacks, sometimes by bounties, sometimes by advantageous treaties of commerce with sovereign states, and sometimes by the establishment of colonies in distant countries. The above two restraints, and these four encouragements to exportation, constitute the six principal means by which the commercial or mercantile system proposes to increase the quantity of gold and silver in any country by turning the balance of trade in its favour.
The entire system, in all its developments, is a fallacious and an evil one. It is not difficult to determine who have been the contrivers of this whole mercantile system: not the consumers, whose interest has been entirely neglected; but the producers, and especially the merchants and manufacturers, whose interest has been so carefully attended to. It remains to be said, also, that the "agricultural system," which represents the produce of land as the sole source of the revenue and wealth of every country, and as therefore justifying a special protection of it, is as fallacious and as harmful as the other.
V.—The Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth
The first duty of the sovereign, that of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies, can be performed only by means of a military force. This may be effected either by obliging all the citizens of the military age, or a certain number of them, to join in some measure the trade of a soldier to whatever other trade or profession they may happen to carry on; or by maintaining a certain number of citizens in the constant practice of military exercises, thus rendering the trade of a soldier a particular trade, separate from all others. In the former case a militia is formed, in the latter a standing army; and of the two, the second is by far the more powerful, as it is also the more expensive.
The second duty of the sovereign, that of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice, requires an increasing expenditure corresponding to the advance and development of the society.
Public works and public institutions are a third cause of expenditure on the part of sovereign or commonwealth; and have two principal objects—that of facilitating the commerce of the society and that of promoting the instruction of the people. Roads, bridges, canals, are examples of the former; schools, universities, established Churches are examples of the latter. And among other expenses of the sovereign or commonwealth we must include the expenses of supporting the dignity of the sovereign.
The funds or sources of revenue which peculiarly belong to the sovereign or commonwealth consist either in stock or in land; but being quite insufficient to meet the public expenditure they are supplemented by taxation. Every tax is finally paid from rent, profit or wages, or from all of them indifferently; and the chief principle to be observed in taxation is, that the subjects of the State ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities—that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the State. The tax which each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain and not arbitrary; every tax ought to be levied at the time or in the manner in which it is most likely to be convenient for the contributor to pay it; and finally, every tax ought to be so contrived as to take out and to keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible over and above what it brings into the public treasury of the State.