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will not learn this duty from the violence. Of what avail to call in Christian teaching of their church, they the etymologist at this time of day, to must learn it from the stern exposition determine the meaning, or criticise the of the economist and the politician. application of so familiar a term as
Political economists have some of political economy ?* them wasted much time, and pro- But there is another class of disduced no little ennui, by unprofitable cussions which, although to the genediscussions on the definition of terms. ral reader, who is mostly an impatient These Mr Mill wisely spares us: an one, they will appear at first sight accurate writer, by a cantious use of to be of a purely technical character, ordinary expressions, will make his must not be so hastily dismissed. meaning more evident and precise These will be often found to have a than he will be able to do by any direct bearing on the most important laboured definitions, or the introduc- questions that can occupy the mind of tion of purely technical terms. Such the statesman. They are in fact exhave been the discussions on the strict planatory of that great machine, a limits of the science of political eco- commercial society, upon which he nomy, and the propriety of the title has to practise—which he has to keep it has so long borne ; whether intel- in order, or to learn to leave alonelectual efforts shall be classed amongst and therefore as necessary a branch productive or unproductive labour, of knowledge to him as anatomy or and the precise and invariable mean- physiology to one who undertakes to ing to be given to such terms as wealth, medicine the body. Such are some value, and the like. These will gene- of the intricate discussions which conrally be found to be unprofitable con cern the nature of capital-a subject troversies, tending more to confusion to which we shall in the first place of ideas than to precision of language and at once turn our attention. It is Let a writer think steadily and clearly a subject which Mr Mill has treated upon his subject, and ordinary lan throughout in a most masterly manguage will be faithful to him; distinc- ner. We may safely say, that there tions between the several meanings is now no other work to which a stuof the same term will be made as they dent could be properly directed for are wanted. He who begins by mak- obtaining a complete insight into all ing such distinctions is only laying a the intricacies of this great branch of snare for his own feet; he will hamper political economy. The exposition himself and perplex his reader. And lies scattered, indeed, through the two with regard especially to the range of volumes ; he must read the entire topics which an author thinks fit to work to obtain it. This scattering of embrace in his treatise upon this the several parts of a subject is inscience, surely he may permit himself evitable in treating such a science as some liberty of choice, without resolv- political economy, where every topic ing to mete out new boundaries to has to be discussed in relation to every which all who follow him are to con- other topic. We do not think that form. If M. Dunoyer, for instance, Mr Mill has been particularly happy in his able and, in many respects, in his arrangement of topics, but, valuable work, De la Liberté du aware as we are of the extreme diffiTravail, chooses to write a treatise culty, under such circumstances, of which embraces in fact the whole of making any arrangement at all, we human life, all the energies and acti- forbear from any criticism. A man vities of man, mental as well as must write himself out the best way physical, he could surely have done he can; and the reader, after obtainthis without assailing old distinctions ing all the materials put at his dispoand old titles with so needless a sition, may pack them up in what
* “Mais d'abord va-t-on désigner cet ordre particulier d'investigations par le nom d'économie politique ? Quoi donc ! Economie politique, économie de la société,c'est à dire-production, distribution, consommation des richesses ? Mais c'est se moquer ; on ne traduit pas avec une liberté pareille. Il ne faut qu'ouvrir le premier dictionnaire venu pour voir," &c.-DUNOYER, De la Liberté du Trarail.
bundles may best suit his own con- as the manufacturer, who spends his venience.
wealth in supporting the artisan, and We must premise that on this sub- finding him the requisites of his art. ject--the nature and employment of and who, after selling the products of capital-there appears to be in one part this industry, continues to spend the of Mr Mill's exposition—not an error capital returned to him, together with -but a temporary forgetfulness of an the profit he has made, in the further old and familiar truth, which onght to sustenance of workmen. But it has have found its place there. Its very been always understood, and the familiarity has occasioned it to be truth appears to be almost too trite overlooked, in the keen inquiry after to insist on, that unless the unproductruth of a more recondite nature. tive consumer were there to purchase, The part which the economists the capitalist would have had no mocall “unproductive consumption," the tive to employ his wealth in this self-indulgent luxurious expenditure manner; and, what is of equal imporof the rich-the part this plays in a tance to bear in mind, unless the system of society based on individual capitalist also calculated on being, effort and individual possession, is not some future day, an unproductive fully stated.
consumer himself, he would have no He who spends his money, and motive, by saving and toiling, to inlives to do little else, however idle he crease his wealth. may be himself, has always had the The necessity for a certain amount consolation that he was, at least, of unproductive consumption is not a setting other people to work. Mr necessity in the nature of things. All Mill seems to deny him utterly this men might, if they chose, be saving, species of consolation ; for in contend- might spend upon themselves only ing against a statement, made by what is needful for comfort, and set political economists as well as others, apart the residue of their funds for the that unproductive consumption is ne- employment of labour, not, of course, cessary, in a strictly economical sense, in the production of articles of luxury, to the employment of the workmen, for which there would be no purand as the indispensable relative to chasers, but for such articles as the productive consumption, or capital labourers themselves, now paid from spent in industrial pursuits, he has such ample stores, might be consumers overlooked that moral necessity there of. The social machine might still go is, in the present system of things, that on under such a regime, and much to there should be those who spend to the benefit of the labourer. The capienjoy, as well as those who lay out their talists would find their profits dimimoney for profit. " What supports nishing, it is true they would be and employs productive labour," says more rapidly approaching that miniMr Mill, (vol. i. p. 97,)" is the capital mum of profit, that stationary state, of expended in setting it to work, and which we shall by-and-by have to not the demand of purchases for the speak; but this diminution of profits produce of the labour when completed. must, at all events, sooner or later, Demand for commodities is not take place, and depends ultimately, as demand for labour. The demand for we shall have occasion to show, on commodities determines in what par- higher laws, over which man has no ticular branch of production the control. Men might, if they chose, labour and capital shall be employed; be all saving, and all convert superit determines the direction of the fluous wealth into capital; but need labour, but not the more or less of the we add, men would never choose any labour itself, or of the maintenance such thing. There is no necessity in and payment of the labour. That the nature of things, but there is a depends on the amount of the capital, necessity in the moral nature of man or other funds directly devoted to the for a certain portion of this unproducsustenance and remuneration of tive consumption. The good of others labour.” Now, without a doubt, the is not a motive sufficiently strong to man who purchases an article of stimulate a man to any of the steady luxury when it is manufactured, does pursuits of industry. When, therenot employ labour in the same sense fore, his real wants are satisfied, it
must be the gratification of fictitious by fresh accumulations, are doing wants that induces him to toil and precisely the same thing which we accumulate, or to part with any thing suppose to be done by our benevohe has, by way of barter or exchange. lent government."-(Vol. i. p. 83.) From the time when the rude posses- Certainly the individual capitalists sor of the soil consents to surrender a could do the same as the benevolent portion of his surplus produce for some government, if they had its benevotrinket or piece of gaudy apparel, to lence. If there are any political ecothe present epoch, when men consent nomists who teach otherwise, we hold to live frugally and toil hard during them in error. We wish only to add the first period of life, in order that to the statement the old moral truth they or their children may afterwards long ago recognised, before political live idly, luxuriously, and ostentati economy had a distinct place or name ously, this same unproductive expen- in the world, that as man is constiditure has performed the part of essen- tuted, or rather, as he has hitherto tial stimulant to human industry. It demeaned himself, (for who knows is not enough, therefore, to say, that it what moral as well as other reformagives the direction to a certain portion tions may take place ?--the civilised of labour : it affords the stimulant that man, such as we have him at this day, converts idleness into industry, and postponing habitually the present ensaving into capital. A very much joyment to the future, is a creature of more dignified being would man un- cultivation; and who can tell but that doubtedly be, if desire for the general advanced cultivation may make of good could replace, as a motive of in- man a being habitually acting for the dustry, a selfish desire, which is often general good, in which general good no better than what we ridicule in the he finds his own particular interest savage when he manifests a most dis- sufficiently represented and provided proportionate anxiety, as it seems to for?)—that, as man has hitherto acted, us, for the possession of glass beads, this same unproductive selfish expenor a piece of painted calico. But to diture is indispensable as the motive this point in the cultivation of human to set that industry to work, which reason we have, at all events, not yet ultimately distributes the real necesarrived. And let this be always borne saries and rational comforts of life to in mind-in order that the class of so many thousands. society designated as unproductive Having, in justice to the class of consumers may not fall into unmerit- unproductive consumers, brought out ed odium-that others, who are using this homely truth, which, in the scientheir wealth in the direct and profit- tific exposition of Mr Mill, seemed in able employment of labour, are them- danger of being overlooked, we proselves desirous, above all things, of ceed to a branch of the subject which, taking their place in the class of unpro- if it appears at first of a very technical ductive consumers, and are working and abstruse description, is yet capable for that very end.
of very important applications. One " Every one can see," writes Mr of the most striking facts relating to Mill, " that if a benevolent govern- the nature of capital is the tendency ment possessed all the food, and all of profits, in wealthy and populous the implements and materials of the countries, to diminish as the amount community, it could exact productive of capital increases-a tendency to labour from all to whom it allowed a arrive at a certain minimum beyond share in the food, and could be in no which there would be no motive for danger of wanting a field for the em- saving, and little possibility of accumuployment of this productive labour, lating. This tendency Mr Mill exsince, as long as there was a single plains as being the result, not of what want unsaturated (which material has been somewhat vaguely called the objects could supply) of any one indi- competition of capital, over-producvidual, the labour of the community tion, or general glut in the market, could be turned to the production of but, in reality, of the physical laws of something capable of satisfying that nature-of the simple fact that the want. Now, the individual posses- products of the soil cannot be indefisors of capital, when they add to it nitely multiplied. Manufacturing in
dustry must be ultimately limited by lying, as it were, the commercial and the supply of the raw material it industrial energies of man, that we fashions, which is furnished by the must finally attribute that gradual soil, and the supply of food for the diminution of profits, observable in artisan, furnished also by the soil; it advanced and opulent countries. This therefore is subjected, as well as agri- is popularly attributed, we believe, cultural industry, to the limits which and has been assigned, by some polihave been set to the productiveness of tical economists, to over-production ; the earth. Now, without seeking for to a general glut of the market, or, any definite ratio, such as might be in other words, a preponderance of expressed in numbers, between the supply over demand. Over-produclabour and ingenuity of man and the tion in this or that article may very products of the soil, it may be stated easily, for a time, take place; but as a simple fact, which admits of no general over-production, a general dispute, that after the land has been over-balance in the supply, and deficifairly cultivated, additional labour and ency in the demand, may be demonadditional cost yield but a small pro- strated to be impossible. portionate return.
The simple but convincing argu“ The limitation to production from the
ment against a general glut or overproperties of the soil," writes our author,
balance between supply and demand, " is not like the obstacle opposed by a which we believe Mr Mill senior wall, which stands immovable in one first originated, is this,-that as each particular spot, and offers no hindrance producer produces in order to part to motion, short of stopping it entirely. with his produce-in order, in fact, to We may rather compare it to a highly exchange, to purchase, he must neceselastic and extensible band, which is sarily bring into the market a demand hardly ever so violently stretched that it equivalent to the supply he furnishes. could not possibly be stretched any more ; "All sellers," as our present anthor yet the pressure of which is felt long bea
expresses it, "are ex vi termini buyers. fore the final limit is reached, and felt more severely the nearer that limit is
Could we suddenly double the proapproached.
ductive powers of the country, we " After a certain, and not very advanced should double the supply of commodistage in the progress of agriculture---as ties in every market; but
ties in every market; but we should, soon, in fact, as men have applied them by the same stroke, double the purselves to cultivation with any energy, and chasing power. Every body would have brought to it any tolerable tools- bring a double demand as well as supfrom that time it is the law of production ply ; every body.would be able to buy from the land, that, in any given state of agricultural skill and knowledge, by in
twice as much, because every one
would have twice as much to offerinexcreasing the labour the produce is not in
change."-(Vol. ii. p. 91.) Of certain creased in an equal degree ; doubling the labour does not double the produce; or,
articles, there may, of course, be a to express the same thing in other words,
superfluity; of certain others a defievery increase of produce is obtained by ciency; but such a thing as a general a more than proportional increase in the over-balance between supply and deapplication of labour to the land.
mand cannot take place. *** This general law of agricultural in The argument, if it laid claim to a dustry is the most important proposition sort of mathematical precision, might in political economy. Were the law dif be open to an ingenious cavil. The ferent, nearly all the phenomena of the production and distribution of wealth
exchange of commodities, it might be would be other than they are. The most
said, is effected through the instrufundamental errors, which still prevail on
mentality of money ; now, it is one of our subject, result from not perceiving
the peculiar advantages of money this law at work underneath the more
that it enables the vender to sell at superficial agencies on which attention one time and purchase at another; it fixes itself ; but mistaking these agencies gives him a command over future for the ultimate causes of effects of which markets ; it enables him to postpone they may influence the form and mode, indefinitely one half of the operation but of which it alone determines the es- of barter. Men who come into a sence.”-(Vol. i. p. 212.)
market, wishing to dispose of their It is to this physical law, under- commodities now, but not intending
to select what commodity they shall annual addition to capital, (the country take in exchange, till some future time, not having, like America, a large repostponing indefinitely the other half serve of fertile land still unused, it is of the operation of barter, and seeking one of the characteristics of such a only for money, for that token which country, that the rate of profit is will give them or their children a claim habitually within, as it were, a hand's on subsequent markets-do not bring breadth of the minimum, and the with them a demand equivalent to country, therefore, on the very verge their supply.
of the stationary state. By this, I The answer to the objection lets us do not mean that this state is likely, more fully into the real facts of the in any of the great countries of case. Those only who wished to sell Europe, to be soon actually reached, their produce in order to hoard, would or that capital does not still yield a fall under the description of men who profit considerably greater than what bring a present supply into the mar- is barely sufficient to induce the people ket, postponing indefinitely their de- of these countries to save and accumumand. But the producer is almost late. My meaning is, that it would always a man desirous of increasing require but a short time to reduce his wealth-he does not hoard; he im- profits to the minimum, if capital conmediately lays out his capital in some tinued to increase at its present rate, productive manner, in the purchase of and no circumstances having a tenfood for labourers, and of the raw dency to raise the rate of profit materials of industry. But these occurred in the mean time."-(Vol. ii. articles, it happens, cannot be sup- p. 287.) plied to him with the increasing Mr Mill then states what are the abundance he demands; and thus counteracting circumstances which we fall back upon the ultimate law to arrest this downward tendency of which we have alluded. The manu. profits. He mentions the waste of facturer finds, that every additional capital in periods of over-trading and demand he makes for these is supplied rash speculation, the expenditure of at a greater cost. What has limited an unproductive kind, and the perthe profits of the agricultural capi. petual overflow of capital into colonies talist limits his profits also. He can- and foreign countries, to seek higher not sell his goods at the accustomed profits than can be obtained at home. advantage. He exclaims that there This last has a twofold operation. is a glut in the market. What he “In the first place, it does what a takes for a glut is a deficiency. It is fire, or an inundation, or a commercial quite natural and permissible, how crisis, would have done,-it carries off ever, that this phenomenon of the a part of the increase of capital from diminution of profits should be spoken which the reduction of profits proceeds. of as the result of a superabundance Secondly, the capital so carried off is of capital, provided only it be under- not lost, but is chiefly employed either stood why the later accumulations of in founding colonies, which become capital fail to bring the same return large exporters of cheap agricultural as the earlier.
produce, or in extending, and perhaps A simple law of nature, therefore, improving, the agriculture of older is the true cause of this commercial communities. It is to the emigration phenomenon. Countries, after a cer- of English capital that we have tain progress in the career of wealth, chiefly to look for keeping up a supply must cease to accumulate ;—the dimi- of cheap food and cheap materials of nished profit on capital affording no clothing, proportional to the increase longer any motive forfrugality and toil; . of our population ; thus enabling an -and they arrive at what may be called increasing capital to find employment the stationary state. "When a in the country, without reduction of country,” says Mr Mill, “has long profit, in producing manufactured possessed a large production, and a articles with which to pay for this large net income to make savings supply of raw produce. Thus, the from, and when, therefore, the means exportation of capital is an agent of have long existed of making a great great efficacy in extending the field of VOL. LXIV.-NO. CCCXCVI.