Molinari waxing Lyrical about Liberty in 1849

The 100th Anniversary of the death of the French/Belgian classical liberal economist Gustave de Molinari (3 March 1819 - 28 January 1912) - the Founding Father of the Anarcho-capitalist Tradition.


I am working on the translation of Gustave de Molinari's 1849 book Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare; entretiens sur les lois économiques et défense de la propriété. (Paris: Guillaumin, 1849). I came across this passionate speech about liberty in the final "conversation" the Economist (aka Molinari) had with the Socialist and the Conservative. I especially like the reference to Spartacus. For more from the Soirées see here.

It is in a free milieu, in a milieu in which the property rights of each person with respect to his faculties and the results of [p. 358] his labor are fully respected, that production develops to the maximum, and that the distribution of wealth is proportioned irresistibly to the efforts and sacrifices each person has put in.

Now from the beginning of the world, the strongest and most cunning men have infringed the internal or external property of other men, in order to consume some of their share in the fruits of production. From this arose slavery, monopolies and privileges.

At the same time as they destroyed the equitable distribution of wealth, such slavery, monopolies and privileges slowed down production, either by reducing the incentive producers had to make things, or in deflecting them away from the kind of production they could most usefully pursue. Oppression engendered poverty.

For long centuries, humanity groaned in the limbo of servitude. From one age to another, however, the somber clamor of distress and anger echoed in the midst of the enslaved and exploited masses. The slaves rose up against their masters, demanding freedom.

Freedom! That was the cry of the captives of Egypt, the slaves of Spartacus, the peasants of the Middle Ages, and more recently of the bourgeoisie oppressed by the nobility and religious corporations, of the workers oppressed by masters and guilds. Freedom, that was the cry of all those who found their property confiscated by monopoly and privilege. Freedom, that was the burning aspiration of all those whose natural rights had been forcibly repressed.


Posted: Friday - March 23, 2012 at 06:20 PM