Page images
PDF
EPUB

rescue of public economy from the hands II. That Public Economy has never yet of empirics, whose highest achievements been reduced to a science, and that the are to bewilder and dazzle the weak and propositions of which it has been for the the indolent with phantasmal demonstra- most part composed, down to this time, are tions.

empirical laws. Mr. Colton has not rejected the title of III. That the propositions relating to the “political economy" because he proposed minor questions in debate have been subto enter a different field, or because the jected to the most rigid test of the recogsubject and argument have no relation to nized canons of experimental induction. political society, but chiefly because the IV. That labor is capital, and the parent term political has been so much abused of all other capital. in this country by the rude agitation of V. That protective duties in the United what are commonly called politics, that he States are not taxes, and that a protective, does not think the word now used with us system rescues the country from an enorcomports with the dignity of the theme; mous system of foreign taxation. and the second part of his title is adopted VI. That different states of society refrom a conviction that the economical prin- quire a corresponding adaptation of the ciples of states are to be deduced from their systems of public economy to each. separate experience and adapted to their VII. That popular and general educaindividual condition. The task which he tion is a fundamental element of public proposed to himself is, the exhibition of the economy. merils of the Protective and Free Trade VIII. There are new points on the subSystems as they apply to the United ject of money and a monetary system, which States. He expresses at the outset his are regarded by the author as vital and funopinion that the settlement of the question damental in public economy, and exhibithe debates is one of the most desirable, and ed under new and impressive aspects. will be one of the most important results IX. That freedom is a thing of commerwhich remain to be achieved in the pro- cial value. gress of the country; and we can assure X. That protection as opposed to free him that the accomplishment of it will be trade is identified with freedom, and with rewarded by the best approval of these the principle of the American revolution. times, and an enduring name.

XI. That the history of freedom for cenThe second chapter of Mr. Colton's turies, for all time, shows it to be identical work is devoted to a statement of the New with protection. Points which it embraces. By new points XII. That the American revolution is he does not mean that all thus described the opening of a new era in the history of are entirely original, though many of them freedom, demonstrating that the protective are so; but that on account of the impor- principle lies at the bottom of the strugtance of the positions he has assigned them, gles after freedom. as compared with the positions they occu XIII. The history of the rise and propy in other works of the kind, they are en gress of the free trade hypothesis is titled to be presented as new. Many of made a point of importance, and of much them involve fundamental and all-perva- interest and instruction. ding principles, that have not hitherto ap XIV. The interests of the American peared in speculations upon the subject, people are represented as necessarily wedbut which are destined hereafter to have ded to the protective principle, and the an important influence in its discussion. masses who have been for a time seduced Some of the most prominent of these points by the deceptive promises of free trade, are are :

supposed to be after protection under false I. His definition of Public Economy, colors, that it is the application of knowledge XV. The different cost of money and derived from experience to a given posi- labor in the United States, as compared tion, to given interests, and to given with their cost in the countries with which institutions, of an independent state or na we trade, is made the foundation of the tion, for the increase of public or private necessity of a protective system; and this wealth.

necessity is averred to be the result of the

organization of society on freedom princi- | a fruit of the reflection of years—Mr. Colples.

ton makes the following observations: XVI. That the destiny of freedom is but

“ We have tried our best to tolerate the inimperfectly achieved, and is contingent on troduction of the term, science, into this definia protective system.

tion, as the substantive part of it, in accordXVII. That an American commercial ance with general usage, such as the science of system, adapted to this end, is required. national wealth, &c.; and we do not repudiare

XVII. That the principle of free trade the idea that science is implied in it, or that it is identical with that of anarchy.

is a proper subject of science. But we are XIX. That those parts of the world forced to deny, that, as yet, the subject has ever which are most free, require protection time, it has any other form of a system

than a col

been reduced to a science, and that down to this against those which are less so, because lection of what the logicians call empirical laws. the sole object of protection is to maintain If it shall be admitted that we have contributed, and fortify freedom.

in any degree, so to sift these empirical laws, XX. The great amount of agricultural pro- and so to adjust them in a scientific form, as ducts and labor which go forth in the form to subject them to recognized canons of experiof manufactures, is made a distinct point mental induction, as we propose to attempt to do, of, to show how necessary manufactures still our definition stands in a form not inconsist

ent with the definition of a science; and though are to an agricultural country, and how it we fail in our proposed task, the purpose of our is impoverished by allowing itself to be de- definition is not impaired. Its terms indicate pendent on other countries for its manu sufficiently the class of sciences among which factured products.

it must take rank, if it is deemed worthy to be XXI. That public economy differs from called a science. It is a science composed of private , not in principle, but in the compre- culiar position, the peculiar interests, and the

contingent propositions—contingent on the pehensiveness of its interests ; and that there peculiar institutions of the country to which its cannot be two kinds of economy, any more

rules are applied at any given time, and conthan two kinds of honesty.

tingent on the changes, in these particulars, We have not stated these new points to which that country may be subject in the either in the order or in the form in which succession of events. It will be seen, therethey appear in the work itself; nor have fore, that our definition is a new point, and that we given all of them ; but these are suffi- it rescues the whole subject, entirely, from the cient to show, that the author has extended position which has been claimed for it by

the Free-Trade economists, as a science of uni. his views much beyond the common range, form propositions—uniform for all countries not to say that he has gone more profoundly and for all times. Every person must see, than most writers into the rationale of po- that one of the essential attributes of Free litical philosophy. We proceed to citations Trade is the uniformity of its propositions for from the author himselfon some of the points all nations, and that any departure in a system above specified, and perhaps on others. It is of public economy from such uniformity, is not in the discussion of these propositions that the poles of a planet, therefore, cannot be

Free Trade, but a violation of its principles. Mr. Colton evinces his highest powers; and wider apart, nor the heavens farther from the while the reader will understand that little earth, than the main position of these two anjustice can be done either to the proposi- tagonistical systems. The propositions of the tions or to the arguments by which they one are the same for all nations, in all time, are maintained, in so brief an article as this while those of the other are contingent on the -or indeed within less space than the position, interests, and institutions of the counclose-thinking and terse-writing author him- try to which they are applied for the time being. self devotes to them-he will be instruct

" It will be observed, that we have not only ed by the hasty abstract which we shall departed from usage, in our definition of public make of so much of the work as relates to economy, by denominating it the application of them most directly and forcibly.

knowledge derived from experience, instead of In regard to the first point, it will be calling it a science; but that we require a girconceded that in all investigations of this

en position, given interests, and given institusort, definitions comprehend

or suggest the tions, of a state or nation, in order to know how

to make the application. The very terms of scope and laws of argument, and are indis

our definition, therefore, take the whole subpensable to its perspicuous and satisfacto-ject from the determinate and immutable laws ry conduct. In offering this definition- of Free Trade, and place it on what may be

*

[ocr errors]

*

It is the very

*

called a contingent basis, itself subject to a va in our classification of the laws of public econriety of contingencies. In Free Trade, we have omy, in their historical condition down to this only to understand its propositions, and then time, as being empirical, let them tell us under we know what they prove, or pretend to prove. what category of dogmas they should be rankBut in our theory of public economy, we con- ed; or let them say, if they choose, that they sult facts, experience, under a given state of do not all belong to this class. We are not things, in order to form the right propositions. tenacious on that point. We only say, they In Free Trade, the propositions lead; in our have never yet been reduced to a science. system, they follow. "In the former, the propo- That is evident, because there is no certainty sitions determine results, or affect to do so; in of science in them. There is no uncertainty the latter, facts, by their practical operation, de- in figures, in mathematics, in geometry, in astermine the propositions, because they deter- tronomy, or in the physical sciences generally, mine results. In the former case, the theory, so far as their respective domains have been or, rather, the hypothesis, is first, and the re-explored ; nor is there uncertainty in any scisults are hypothetical ; in the latter, the theory ence, the elements of which have been asceris last, and is made to depend on the facts. Our tained and adjusted in scientific order and rela. theory, therefore, is not one of propositions, tions. There can be none. formed irrespective of facts, but a theory grow nature of science to realize its predictions. We ing out of facts.

do not affirm confidently, that all the dogmas " It will also be seen, that, from our defini- which ever have been uttered on public econtion, as a starting point, the field of public omy, will fall within the logician's definition of economy opened by it is entirely new. It is empirical laws: but we think they will genernot the world, it is not all nations, it is not any ally be found there; nor can we conceive how two nations ; but it is one nation in particular. a more respectable rank could fairly be assigned The law of the definition necessarily brings to them. It is not simply for the convenience the subject within these limits. This imparts of classification, that we have put them there; an entirely new character to the argument. but because we could not find a more legitimate With general propositions, we have nothing to place, do; it is a particular case. It is a system of “Now, let us consider what the characteris. public economy for the United States alone, tic of an empirical law is, as presented in the which we are required to frame. It has been above citation, [from John Stuart Mill:] «The shown above, that it is not possible to construct property of being unfit to be relied on beyond. one for all nations, nor even for two. All pre- the limits of time, place, and circumstance, in tensions of this kind are utterly baseless, and which the observations have been made. It can do nothing but evil so far as they are in- may not always be so good as this; but it cannot fluential."

be better. It must be seen, therefore, that it en

tirely cuts off the generalizations of Free Trade, Under the second point above specified, and falls directly in the line of our definition our author says :

No law of public economy:can be safely trusted

except for the time, place, and circumstance, “ Both the novelty and importance of the po- in which the observations have been made ; sition here taken, demand some exposition. that is, the observations which have established If it be well authorized, truc in fact, for the the law. The principle necessarily restricts purpose we have in view, it cannot be too well every system of public economy to one nationunderstood. When Free Trade economists to that nation where the observations that have have arrogated the high and dignified title of a dictated its laws, have been made. Within science for their theme, one naturally asks, these limits empirical laws may be serviceawhat sort of a science is it? In what is its ar ble, and by proper attention may be reduced to tificial structure apparent ? Where are the a science. For a wider range it is not possiprinciples and rules by which we arrive at in- ble that a science should be made of them on fallible conclusions ? A science, well and truly this subject. In the language of Mr. Mill, it is formed, can predict results with certainty ; it is not simply absurd, but abstractedly imposthe very nature of science to do this, and any sible.”” pretension of this kind that fails in its predictions, is thereby proved false. Have the laws

From under the third head, where the of public economy ever yet been

so adjusted as recognized canons of experimental inducto produce this result? Manifestly not. they had, all the world would have known it, | tion are cited, and according to which the and there would be no controversy. The truth author professes to have constructed his is, the whole subject still remains a wide field general argument, we make the following of empirical laws, not entirely useless, but yet extracts : unadjusted as to scientific order and relations, having not the slightest claim to the dignity of “We for a long time thought that public a science. If any should think we have failed economy never could be made a science in the

[ocr errors]

strict sense of the term. But that position can “ Labor is capital, primary and fundamental. hardly be maintained, if it be allowed that every- The position which is usually awarded, in sys thing is a subject of science, and capable of tems of public economy, to what is called capbeing brought into its place as such; and if, ital, as if labor were not capital, and capital of moreover, it be considered, that it is a part of the most important kind, has tended to degrade science to adapt itself to the nature of the sub- labor, and to strip it of its essential attributes as ject. A science of contingent propositions, for the producer of all adventitious wealth, or of aught that can be seen, is as supposable as one that state of things which distinguishes civilof uniform and immutable propositions. The ized society from barbarism. It has also tendpropositions of public economy, as we hold, ed to cloud one of the most important branches must necessarily change with a change of data ; of public economy in obscurity, and led to much and it cannot be denied, that such changes are embarrassment in the consideration of others. constantly transpiring in every commonwealth. The natural order of things is thus reversed; It will be found that this principle of a liability that which ought to be first, is put last; the to a change of data, presents itself on the cause stands in place of the effect; the agent is threshold, and that it lies at the foundation of taken for the instrument; the producer for the the science of public economy. It is impossi- thing produced. ble to cast it aside, or turn the back upon it, Although it will be convenient in this work, with any hope of a successful investigation, or in order to avoid frequent repetition and unneuseful result. A public measure required at cessary circumlocution, to employ the customone time, may, by events, or even by its own ary phrase, capital and labor, in the nsual operation in the complete fulfilment of its pur- sense, it is due to a just consideration of the pose, require to be modified, or suspended, or comparative claims of these two things, to assuperseded, at a subsequent period; and the sert the prior and paramount rights of labor, as same measure may be of the greatest impor- to the position to which it is entitled in a systance to one nation, which would be injurious tem of public economy. Labor is capital of its to another, possibly to all others. Nothing can own kind, not as a subject to be acted upon for be more contingent than the propositions of the increase of its own value, but as an agent public economy.

that imparts value to every other kind of capi“It must be admitted, that nothing is more tal which it creates, or which, after having credesirable, in public economy, than that the cer- ated, it employs as an instrument, or takes in tainties of science should be brought to bear hand for improvement. It is doubtless true, upon it; and nothing more evident than that, that the faculties or powers of labor are subhitherto, they have never been so directed. jects of culture and use, for the increase of their The reasons are obvious, as shown in our cita- skill and effectiveness; and in this sepse are tions, here and there, from Mr. Mill. It was subjects of action for the increase of their value. impossible that a science on this subject should In this particular, the faculties or powers of labe constructed out of the common experience bor occupy the position of any other kind of of nations for common use, or out of the expe. capital, as subjects of improvement by labor rience of one nation for the use of another. " It itself. It will be observed, however, that it is is only in the line of the experience of one na not labor, but the faculty of labor, the value of tion that the rigid principles of such a science which is thus increased. can be applied, and for that nation only. All “European economists, for the most part, if beyond this field is a region of empirical laws, not universally, regard labor as a mere power, as before shown; and of that precise category like horse-power, or any other brute force; and of empirical laws, which are utterly incapable what Ricardo and the Adam Smith school mean of being reduced to a science.”

by the proportion of the whole produce of the

earth allotted to labor, is simply that which is In the chapter devoted to labor, one of necessary for its subsistence, as for that of a the longest and strongest of the work, be- horse, an ox, or any other brute. The three sides presenting his subject in many Smith, Ricardo, and others of the same school

,

chief elements of public economy, as taught by novel aspects, Mr. Colton avers that heretofore labor has occupied a false posi- that a system of public economy, constructed

are rent, profit and wages.' It must be seen tion in systems of public economy, and on such principles, is entirely unsuited to that a vast amount of doctrinal and practi- American society; and though its doctrines in cal error has been the result; in short, the abstract may often be correct, its whole that, as labor is so important and all-per- must be totally inapplicable to a state of things vading an element in public economy, any radically, fundamentally, and essentially differsystem which does not give to labor its ent from that for which such a system is detrue position, must necessarily be vitiated social position of these economists, that they

signed. It was morally impossible, from the to its core and foundation. “ Labor,” says should be able to adapt a system of public econMr. Colton

omy to American society, not having thought

it incumbent on themselves to make any other it is no wonder that men who are entitled, and provision for labor, than to save it from starva- who ought to be free, should be slaves. In its tion, and to get the greatest profit out of it, as proper position, it proclaims a great truth, the the owner does out of his ox or his horse ; and consequences of which are stupendous, when believing, as they do, that system the best which carried out to all its legitimate results, in a syswill secure this end most effectually. There tem of public economy, morally and socially can be no redeeming quality with Americans, considered, as well as commercially—and more for a system of public economy, one of the fun especially in the former aspects. damental principles of which is of this kind, The rocking of the cradle of American inpervading it throughout, imparting its charac-dependence, josiled into one those distinctive ter to it, and constituting a part of its very es elements on which the Free-Trade economists sence. The three words, rent, profit, and have founded their system. It broke down the wages,' in the sense in which they are employed barriers of classes, which form the peculiar by Smith and his school, as representing the features of that system, and the doctrine was three comprehensive parts of their system, are then proclaimed, that all men are born free safficiently declaratory of its character, and and equal.' As before, more especially from look back to a feudal state of society. The that time, this nation became a community of things here intended are not to be found in this working men, in whose eyes labor is an honor; country, and are not tolerated by its institu- and he who does not work, is the exception to tions.

the general rule. Labor, therefore, in the UniLabor-capital is the parent of all other cap- ted States, occupies an elevated, influential, ital. Other capital is chiefly, if not altogether, honorable position. It is not the man that lives the creature of civilization, though the same by work, but the man that lives without work, thing, in substance, may be found in a savage that is looked upon with disrespect. A gentlestate. But as a subject of public economy, it man of fortune and of leisure, who does nothing, is regarded as one of the things receiving its has far less consideration than he, who, though definite form and measure from the hand of civil equally able to live without work, devotes himpolity. It will be found, indeed, that the entire self to some useful pursuit. structure of civilization owes its existence to Labor, work, is the spirit, the genius of the labor, and of course those parts of it which de American people. It was so from the beginrive their tangible value from its forms, and ning by necessity; it became a fixed habit of which are regulated by them. Civilization the community; and has ever been a part of itself is secondary and ministerial, in relation the morale of the country. It is a grand politito all the capital which labor creates, and comes cal eleinent; it was born of a great political in to define and protect it. It was in part the exigency; it was nourished in a political cravalue of these products of labor which made dle; it graduated into manhood with political civilization necessary, that it might receive a honors; it made with its own hands, and has definite form, and be made secure. No man ever worked, the machinery of the political can apply his hand or point his finger to a thing commonwealth ; it lies at the foundation of the regarded as capital, which is not the product social edifice, pervades the entire structure, of labor. All intrinsic values are but fictions of and its escutcheon stands out in bold relief the imagination, always imapalpable, vanishing from the pediment. And is this the thing, the as they are approached. The diamond and the element, the power, that is to content itself with pebble are of equal value in the eye of the bar- the position and the doom of the third class barian, and would be equivalents in every other enumerated, defined, and described by Europeeye, but for the existence of that capital, the an economists, whose measure of degradation product of labor, which is able to purchase the and of comfort could not be expressed by Adam diamond at a high price. We do not, however, Smith and others, as seen in the citations from mean to say, that it is improper, or without sig them, without a picture drawn from slavery. nificance, to use the terms, intrinsic value. They are employed in this work in the usual “ It should be observed that labor is never sense, and are pertinent when so used, because independent, when it has no alternative; that is, they represent a practical idea. It will be when it not strong enough in its own posifound, however, that this value is entirely the tion to accept or reject the wages offered to it product of labor ; and this conclusion may be in any given case, if unsatisfactory, and when, justified by the doctrines of all the economists in such a case, it cannot turn away, and live worthy of respect.

and prosper. When it can do this, it not only " Labor, in its true position, defines human has a voice in its wages, but the parties in conrights, without a word, and men will scarcely tract, the employer and the employed, stand on fail to recognize them, while it remains there. a footing of equality. This principle is equally But, when thrust out of place, into a false po- applicable to the producer of commodities of sition, and chained to slavery; when it is made any description, as the proprietor of a farm, to occupy this position in all the systems of workshop, or any other producing establishpublic economy most in vogue in the world, | ment, over which he presides, and where, per

*

*

*

*

*

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »