If the great French classical liberal publisher Gilbert-Urbain Guillaumin (1801-64) were alive today I wonder what titles he would reprint in order to commemorate the glorious 19th century tradition of which he was so much a part? Below is my proposal for a new 21st century Guillaumin Book Catalog with a sampling of the most important works.
Re: A Proposal for a new publishing venture to be called the “Guillaumin Collection of Nineteenth-Century European Classical Liberal Thought.”
I would like to propose a new series of classics of liberty to be called the Guillaumin Collection of Nineteenth Century European Classical Liberalism Thought" named after the great French classical liberal publisher Gilbert-Urbain Guillaumin (1801-64). It would be consist of 40 volumes drawn from the rich collection of 19th century French, German, and English classical liberal thought, which, still to this day, remain badly neglected and under-appreciated. There would be titles representing the contributions of the French, German, British, and other European Classical Liberal Tradition:
Jean-Baptiste Say – the leading early 19thC French free market economist who spread Smithian ideas in France, made his own unique contributions to economic thought (the idea of the entrepreneur), and whose work in translation had a profound impact on the teaching of economics in the USA. His Treatise of Political Economy needs a new modern translation and should compromise one volume. Say’s considerable body of untranslated material needs to be anthologised in order to introduce his ideas to the non-French speaking world, especially his writings on colonies, slavery, free trade, and this could compromise a second volume. He really is the French equivalent of Adam Smith in the breadth of his ideas and his interdisciplinary approach to liberty.
Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer – followers of J.B. Say during the Napoleonic Empire and the Restored Monarchy who developed Say’s ideas into a comprehensive free market theory of history and whose journals Le Censeur and Le Censeur Europeen had a profound impact on the development of 19thC French classical liberal thought, in particular that of Frederic Bastiat. The best articles and reviews from their journals could comprise one volume, whilst an anthology from their other numerous books could comprise another.
Benjamin Constant is best known as a political philosopher but it is less well known that he wrote an extended defence of free market economic ideas in a work appended to a French edition of the Italian writer Filangieri, entitled Commentary on the Works of Filangieri. This is Contant’s most well developed work on economic thought and it is virtually unknown in the English-speaking world. It is most deserving of translation.
The Dictionary of Political Economy (1852) and the New Dictionary of Political Economy (1892) were compendia of classical liberal and free market thought in mid-century and end of century France. Both deserve to have the best analytical, biographical and bibliographical articles translated and anthologised to show the vibrant state of French classical liberal and free market ideas in the first and second halves of the 19th century. The strength of the French tradition was its ties to natural rights and natural law (at a time when English political economy was increasingly coming under the sway of Benthamite anti-natural rights utilitarianism). The French liberals also came under attack from organized socialism, beginning in the 1848 Revolution, long before the English did. Bastiat got involved in rebutting the threat of socialism, contributing to the Dictionary of Political Economy (1852), but died too early in 1851. His colleagues continued the fight in the New Dictionary of Political Economy (1892), edited by Say’s grandson.
The Journal des Economistes was the premier French journal defending free market ideas throughout the 19th century. It began in the 1840s when organised socialism first emerged as a threat and continued under the Second Emire, the 1871 Revolution, the Third Empire, and the rise of protectionism in the late 19th century. For much of this time it was edited by the strong advocate of laissez-faire economics, Gustave de Molinari. An anthology of the best articles from this journal would be a valuable testament to this bulwark of economic liberty in the second half of the 19th century in France.
Gustave de Molinari – Molinari was the leading French free market economist in the second half of the 19th century. He was the editor of the prestigious Journal des Economists, a prolific author of full length works of economic theory as well as “philosophical history” in the tradition of the Scottish Enlightenment, and the leader in the intellectual fight against protectionism, economic interventionism, war, colonialism, and socialism up until his death in 1912. It would be fitting to honor the centennial of his death in 2012 with a collection of his writings. [A more detailed description of what a mulit-volume collection of Molinari's writings might look like].
Johann Gottlieb Fichte – although best known as an advocate of German nationalism during the Napoleonic period (as a reaction against French invasion and occupation of German territory), during the 1790s he was inspired by the French Revolution to pen a number of works defending individual liberty, democracy and natural rights, and attacking feudal and monarchical privilege. These need to be translated into English.
John Prince Smith -
Karl von Rotteck and Karl Welcker - During the 1830s in the German states a debate sprang up amongst German liberals about the best model of classical liberalism they should follow – the British constitutional monarchy vs. the American Republic. Rotteck and Welcker represented the two wings of this debate and as editors of the influential Staastlexikon the debate played out in their publication. An anthology of the best articles from this encyclopaedia would provide a valuable snapshot of the state of German liberalism at this time. The articles of the radical individualist Friedrich Murhard on tyrants and tyrannicide would be particularly interesting.
Friedrich Murhard –
Eugen Richter - In the late 19th century a German equivalent of the English arch-free trader and anti-war advocate Richard Cobden appeared in the German Second Empire – Eugen Richter. He was a member of parliament and a journalist who became famous for opposing every year Bismarck’s war budget and his social welfare provisions which laid the foundation for the creation of the welfare state in Germany. An anthology of his works, edited by the world’s leading scholar of Richter’s work, Ralph Raico, would be an important addition to the far too sparse collection of German classical works available in English.
Other authors to consider in the future:
Jeremy Bentham – having already republished a number of the works of the leading 19th century English classical liberal and political economist, John Stuart Mill, it makes sense to also publish the key works of his intellectual forbears Jeremy Bentham and his father James Mill. Bentham was the founder of the school of utilitarianism and wrote important works on philosophy and political and prison reform.
James Mill – was a founder of the utilitarian economic and political reform group in early 19th century Britain and the father and teacher of John Stuart Mill. He wrote an important treatise on political economy, a history of British India, and very influential articles on political and economic reform for the Encyclopedia Britannica.
John Wade – an unjustly forgotten radical individualist reformer who compiled detailed information about the vested interest groups who controlled the British government in the early 19th century. In his Extraordinary Black Book he chronicled those who benefited from access to political privilege in the British state after the Napoleonic Wars.
Thomas Hodgskin – often mistaken as a “Ricardian Socialist” he was in fact a staunch defender of individual rights and laissez economic policy. He wrote popular works on the free market addressed to working class audiences and one of the best defences of the natural right to property ever penned.
Thomas Babington Macaulay – a sophisticated and erudite author who wrote for the main classical liberal “reviews” of the mid-19th century. A collection of his best works is well overdue.
Richard Cobden –He was a member of parliament and one of the best advocates of free trade and international peace in the 19th century. None of his works are available in modern editions even though he is one of the towering figures of 19th century classical liberalism.
The Economist magazine. Even today, The Economist magazine is an important defender of free market ideas in Europe. In the mid-19th century it was a trail blazer in advocating free trade and deregulation. One of its early writers was a young Herbert Spencer. An anthology of some its best editorials and articles from its heyday would be a welcome additional to our list of publications.
Herbert Spencer – As one of the most interesting and consistent radical liberal individualists of the late 19th century, he wrote important works of political philosophy, political analysis, journalism, political philosophy, and sociology
Gerolamo Boccardo (1829-1904)
Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923)
Other authors to consider in the future: