Liberal Europe and Social Change, 1815-1914:
Course Lecture Notes (1990)

The Course textbook: Theodore Hamerow, The Birth of a New Europe (1983)  


This is part of a collection of material on the history of the classical liberal tradition.


I gave this year long course at the University of Adelaide between the years of 1987 and 1996 before it was terminated in a restructuring of the Arts Faculty. Among my files I found the course guides for the academic years 1987-88, one in HTML and this one in facs. PDF. Back then we printed off the guides using a dot-matrix printer (hence the poor qulaity) and images were inserted literally by cutting and pasting pieces of paper. I also found my extensive lecture notes which I ussed in a slightly shortened semester length version of the course which I gave in 1990.

Please forgive the loss of some formatting due to the difficult conversion from one application to another.



Table of Contents



  • I. Preliminary Lecture 1
    • A. Information Card 1
    • B. Tutorial Times 1
    • C. History Subject Librarians. 1
    • D. Study Guide 1
    • E. Ground Rules for the Course 1
    • F. Statement about Plagiarism 2
    • G. The Nature of Intellectual History 2
      • 1. The Realtionship Between Intellectual History and Other Kinds of History 2
      • 2. Importance of Intellectual History 3
      • 3. Importance of 19th Century Intellectual History - Liberalism 3
    • H. Continuing Relevance of 19th Century Liberalism to Ideological Conflicts of the Present 3
  • II. What is Liberalism? 5
    • A. Summary 5
    • B. The Political Spectrum 5
    • C. The Problem of Defining Liberalism 5
    • D. Five Ways in which Historians have Defined Liberalism 6
      • 1. Liberalism as Temperament or Culture 6
      • 2. Liberalism as a means or Method of Government 6
      • 3. Liberalism as the Ideology of the Rising Bourgeoisie 7
      • 4. Liberalism as a "Negative" Ideology 7
      • 5. Liberalism as a Coherent Body of Principles 9
    • E. List of Key Beliefs which Defined a Liberal in the 19th Century 10
  • III. LIBERTY I: Individual Liberty or the Theory of Individualism 11
    • A. Introduction 11
    • B. Individualism in the 19th Century 11
    • C. Extent of Individualism in the 19th Century 12
    • D. Origin of Term 12
    • E. The Basic Ideas of Individualism 13
      • 1. The Concept of the Abstract Individual and Methodological Individualism 13
      • 2. The Dignity of the Individual 13
      • 3. Autonomy and Moral Resposability 14
      • 4. Individual Self-fulfillment 14
      • 5. Privacy 15
      • 6. Social and Individual Experimentation 16
    • F. Applications of Individualism to Social Organization 17
      • 1. Politics 17
      • 2. Economics 17
  • IV. LIBERTY II: Individualism and the Idea of Individual Liberty in the Thought of Wilhelm von Humboldt and John Stuart Mill 18
    • A. Introduction 18
    • B. The Individualism of Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) 18
      • 1. Biography of Humboldt 18
      • 2. Humboldt's Individualism 18
      • 3. Critique of Paternalism 20
      • 4. Idea of Unlimited Progress of Individual and Society 20
      • 5. Humboldt's Vision of a Liberal Utopia 20
    • C. The Individualism of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) 20
      • 1. Biography of JSM 20
      • 2. James Mill 20
      • 3. John Stuart Mill 21
      • 4. Individualism of JSM in On Liberty (1859) 21
        • a. Idea of "social tyranny" 22
        • b. Idea of Private "sphere of action" 22
        • c. Right of Free Speech 22
        • d. "Dead" vs "Living" Beliefs 23
        • e. Diversity in "Different Experiments of Living" make Progress possible 23
        • f. Development of "Eccentricity" is Social Usefull 24
        • g. Only "Acts Injurious to Others" Should be Punished 24
        • h. A Theory of "Social Rights" a "Monstrous" Principle Harmful to Liberty 24
        • i. Danger of Adding to Power of the Government - Creation of "Hangers-On" 25
  • V. PROPERTY I: Pre-19thC Natural Rights Defences of Property and the Benthamite Critique 26
    • A. Summary 26
    • B. Introduction 26
    • C. The Natural Law Tradition 26
      • 1. Aristotle 26
      • 2. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) 26
      • 3. Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) 27
      • 4. Radical Natural Law: the Levellers 27
      • 5. John Locke 27
      • 6. Influence of Locke and Natural Law in 18th Century 27
      • 7. Adam Smith 27
      • 8. Natural Rights Theories of Property in France 28
    • D. The Origins of Utilitarianism 28
      • 1. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) 29
        • a. Biography 29
        • b. Bentham's Critique of Natural Rights, especially property rights 30
          • i. Disagreement over Nature and Origin of Law and Government 30
          • ii. Law Creates Right to Property 31
          • iii. Rejects Idea of Self-Ownership 31
          • iv. Opposed idea of the equality of rights 32
      • 2. The Utilitarianism of James and John Stuart Mill 32
        • a. James Mill 32
        • b. John Stuart Mill 32
  • VI. PROPERTY II: Natural Rights Defences of Property in the 19thC - Hodgskin, Spencer 34
    • A. Summary 34
    • B. Thomas Hodgskin (1787-1869) 34
      • 1. Biography 34
      • 2. TH's Natural Rights Defense of Liberty and Property 34
      • 3. Idea of Property as Expectiation 35
      • 4. TH's Theory of Property: The Distinction between Natural and Artificial Right to Property 36
    • C. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) 38
      • 1. Biography 38
    • D. Conclusion 41
    • A. Summary 42
    • B. Introduction 42
    • C. Frédéric Bastiat's Theory of the "Harmony" of the Free Market 42
      • 1. Biography of Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) 42
      • 2. Bastiat's Idea of The Harmony of the Free Market 43
      • 3. Bastiat's Idea of Competition 44
      • 4. The Idea of "Compensating" or "Disturbing Factors" Creating Disorder and Disharmony 46
  • VIII. FREE MARKET II: Laissez-faire 48
    • A. Summary 48
    • B. Introduction 48
    • C. Definition of Laissez-faire and its Advocates in the Nineteenth Century 48
    • D. Definition and History of Expression "Laissez-faire" 48
    • E. Nineteenth Century Advocates of Laissez-Faire 49
      • 1. Harriet Matrtineau (1802-1876)- Populariser of Laissez-Faire 49
        • a. Biography 49
        • b. Harriet Martineau's Illustrations of Poltiical Economy (1832-4) 50
      • 2. The "High Tide" of Laissez-faire: James Wilson, Herbert Spencer, Thomas Hodgskin atThe Economist 50
        • a. Biography of James Wilson (1805-1859) 50
      • 3. John Stuart Mill's Reservations about Laissez-Faire on the Grounds of Utility 51
        • a. Optional Functions of Government 51
    • F. Conclusion 53
  • IX. POLITICAL LIBERALISM I: Constitutionalism, Freedom of Speech and Electoral Reform 54
    • A. Summary 54
    • B. Constitutionalism 54
    • C. Constitutionalism and Benjamin Constant (1767-1830) 54
      • 1. Biography of Benjamin Constant 54
      • 2. Constitutionalism in France and the Charter of 1814 56
      • 3. Constant's Theory of a Liberal Constitution 56
        • a. Concept of monarchy as "neutral power" 57
        • b. Ministerial Responsiblity 57
        • c. Importance of an Hereditary Assembly 58
        • d. Opposition to Arbitrary Authority 59
    • D. Conclusion 59
  • X. POLITICAL LIBERALISM II: The Defence of Freedom of Speech by Constant and J and JS Mill 60
    • A. Methods of Censorship in 19thC Europe 60
    • B. Benjamin Constant on Freedom of the Press 60
      • 1. free press encourages civilisation 60
      • 2. analogy between "laissez-faire" and "laissez-écrire" 61
      • 3. Free Press substitute for political rights 61
    • C. James Mill on THE Liberty of the Press 61
      • 1. "Liberty of the Press" 61
        • a. Attacks against Personal Reputation 61
        • b. Press Offences with Respect to the Government 62
        • c. Obstruction of Specific and Essential Government Operations 63
        • d. Opposition to Government Policies in a General Sense 63
    • D. John Stuart Mill on the Liberty of Thought and Discussion 64
      • 1. Mill's Defense of Free Speech in On Liberty 65
        • a. Censorship as Illegitimate Power 66
        • b. The Relativity of Truth 66
        • c. the Cultural Benefits of Diversity of Opinion 66
  • XI. LIMITED GOVERNMENT: Wilhelm von Humboldt's Strict Limited Government Philosophy 68
    • A. Summary 68
    • B. Introduction 68
    • C. The Strict Limited Government Position: Wilhelm von Humboldt 69
      • 1. What the State Should Not Do 69
        • a. "Spirit of Governing" produces Uniformity 69
        • b. "Spirit of Governing" weakens Vitality of Nation 70
        • c. Legislation ignores Individual Differences 71
        • d. State Activity never Remains Limited for Long 71
        • e. other objections to specific state activity 71
      • 2. What Should the State Do 72
  • XII. Liberal Anarchism: Charles Dunoyer, Herbert Spencer, Gustave de Molinari 74
    • A. Summary 74
    • B. Introduction 74
    • C. Near Anarchist Liberals: Wilhelm von Humboldt, Charles Dunoyer, Thomas Hodgskin, Herbert Spencer 75
      • 1. Wilhelm von Humboldt 75
      • 2. Thomas Hodgskin 75
      • 3. Charles Dunoyer (1786-1862) 76
        • a. The Withering Away of the State, or the Municipalisation of the World 77
      • 4. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) 79
        • a. Biography 79
        • b. Spencer's Anti-Statism 79
    • D. A True Liberal Anarchist: Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912) 81
    • 1. Biography of Molinari 81
    • 2. Molinari's Liberal Anarchism 81
    • 3. The Production of Security 82
    • E. Conclusion 83
  • XIII. FREE TRADE I: Free Trade and Protection in Germany: The Formation of the Zollverein 85
    • A. Summary 85
    • B. The German States in 1815 85
    • C. The Zollverein or Customs Union 86
    • D. Further Trade Liberalisation in the 1860s 87
  • XIV. FREE TRADE II: The Conflict between Free Trade and Protectionism in germany: John Prince Smith vs Friedrich List 89
    • A. Summary 89
    • B. Introduction 89
    • C. Friedrich List (1789-1846) 89
      • 1. List's Opposition to International Free Trade 90
      • 2. Rejection of Smithian "Cosmopolitan" Economics 90
      • 3. Fear of Dominant Nation 90
      • 4. Need for the Individual to Sacrfice their Interests for that of the Nation 91
      • 5. Problem of War and the Need to Protect War Industries 92
      • 6. "Infant Industry" Argument for Protection 92
    • D. John Prince Smith (1809-1874) 93
    • E. Frédéric Bastiat's "Petition" 94
  • XV. WOMEN I: The Situation of Women in France 95
    • A. Summary 95
    • B. Introduction 95
    • C. Situation of Women in Nineteenth Century France 95
      • 1. Discrimination under the Law 95
      • 2. Discrimination in the Catholic Church 96
      • 3. Discrimination in Eduation 97
      • 4. The Economic Situation of Women in 19thC France 98
    • D. Conclusion 100
  • XVI. WOMEN II: The Ideal of Domesticity and its Opponents in 19th Century France 101
    • A. Summary 101
    • B. The Concept of Domesticity 101
    • C. "La Querrelle des Femmes": the Ideal of Domesticity and its Critics in the Second Empire - Proudhon vs Juliette Lambier 103
    • D. Proudhon's Anti-Feminism 103
    • E. The Liberal Feminist Response to Proudhon and the Ideal of Domesticity 104
    • F. Key Passages in John Stuart Mill's The Subjection of Women (1869) 106
  • XVII. SLAVERY I: The Atlantic Slave Trade in the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries 107
    • A. Summary 107
    • B. Introduction 107
    • C. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade 107
    • D. The Slave Trade in the 19thC 109
  • XVIII. SLAVERY II: French Abolitionist Thought 111
    • A. Summary 111
    • B. Introduction: The Emergence of Abolitionist Thought in the Enlightenment 111
      • 1. Jaucourt on Slavery 111
      • 2. Voltaire on Slavery 111
    • C. Abolitionist Organisations in France from 1788-1848 112
      • 1. the "Société des amis des noirs" (Society of the friends of the blacks) 1788-1793 112
      • 2. the "Coppet Circle" - Madame de Staël 113
      • 3. Benjamin Constant on Slavery 114
      • 4. the "Société de la morale chrétienne" (Society for Christian Morality) 1822-1848 114
    • D. Abolitionism during the July Monarchy 1830-1848 115
    • E. the "Société pour l'abolition de l'esclavage" (Society for the abolition of Slavery) 1834-48 115
    • F. Biography of Tocqueville and Beaumont 116
      • 1. Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59) 116
      • 2. Gustave de Beaumont (1802- ) 116
      • a. Beaumont's Anti-Slavery Novel Marie 116
      • 3. Alexis de Tocqueville on Abolition of Slavery 119
        • a. The "Report on Abolition" of 1839 119
        • b. AT's articles on the De Broglie Report published in Le Siècle 1843 119
  • XIX. WAR AND PEACE I: War and Military Expenditure in the 19thC 121
    • A. Summary 121
    • B. Introduction: The Nature of Warfare in the 19thC 121
      • 1. The Increase in the Size of Military Forces 121
      • 2. The Industrialisation of Warfare 123
      • 3. The Development of a Military-Industrial Complex and the Arms Race before 1914 124
    • C. Conclusion 125
  • XX. WAR AND PEACE II: THe Opposition of French and English Liberals to War 126
    • A. Summary 126
    • B. Introduction 126
    • C. Liberal Attitudes to War and Peace 126
      • 1. Benjamin Constant and "The Spirit of Conquest" (1814) 126
      • 2. Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832) 127
      • 3. James Mill (1773-1836) 127
      • 4. Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) 129
      • a. International Conference of the Friends of Peace, 1848- 130
      • 5. Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912) 131
    • D. Conclusion 133
  • XXI. SOCIALISM I: The Socialist Challenge to Liberalism 134
    • A. Summary 134
    • B. Introduction 134
    • C. John Stuart Mill and the Socialism within Liberalism 134
    • D. New Liberalism 136
      • 1. Hobhouse (1864-1929) 136
    • E. The Threat to Liberalism from Without: Fabian Socialism 137
      • 1. The Fabian Concept of the Administrative Machine 138
    • F. Conclusion 139
  • XXII. SOCIALSM II: The Old Liberal Critique of Socialism 140
    • A. Summary 140
    • B. Introduction 140
    • C. The Opposition to New Liberalism and Socialism in Late 19thC Britain 140
      • 1. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) 140
        • a. Spencer's Opposition to New Liberalism in Man versus the State (1884) 141
        • b. Spencer's Opposition to Socialism: "The New Slavery" 143
      • 2. The Attack on Socialism by the "Liberty and Property Defence League" 144
    • D. Conclusion 146
  • XXIII. LIBERALISM AND THE NOVEL I: George Eliot's Felix Holt, the Radical 147
    • A. Summary 147
    • B. Introduction 147
    • C. Biography of George Eliot (1819-1880) 147
    • D. Eliot's Politics 147
    • E. Politics in Felix Holt, the Radical 148
    • F. Other Passages in the Novel of Political Interest 150
  • XXIV. LIBERALISM AND THE NOVEL II: Stendhal's The Red and the Black (1830) 151
    • A. Summary 151
    • B. Biography of Henri Marie Beyle (Stendhal) (1783-1842) 151
    • C. The Film by Claude Autant-Lara and the Novel 153
      • 1. Characters and Plot of The Red and the Black 153
      • 2. Themes of a Political and Social Nature in the Film 154
    • A. Summary 156
    • B. Introduction 156
    • C. Biography of Theodor Fontane (1819-1898) 156
      • 1. Fontane's Politics 157
      • 2. Fontane's Activity in the 1848 Revolution 157
      • 3. Fontane's Private Correspondence in the 1890s 158
    • D. The Picture of the Junker Class in Fontane's Novels 159
    • E. Theodor Fontane's Novel Effi Briest (1895) 160
      • 1. Summary of the Plot 160
      • 2. Important Passages in the Novel 161
    • A. Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest (1895) 163
      • 1. East German Version 163
      • 2. West German Version 163
      • 3. Characters and Plot of Effi Briest 163
      • 4. Themes of a Political and Social Nature in the Book and Film 163
    • B. Claude Autant-Lara's 1954 Film of Stendhal's The Red and The Black: A Chronicle of the Nineteenth Century (1831) 165
      • 1. Director: Claude Autant-Lara 165
      • 2. Characters and Plot of The Red and the Black 165
      • 3. Themes of a Political and Social Nature in the Film 166
      • 4. References 166



I. Preliminary Lecture

Welcome to course "Liberal Europe and Social Change"

Hand out course guide. Charge of $5 to cover some of costs of photocopying. Contains rules and regulations governing course and reading for tutorials and the essay.

My name is David Hart. Please address me as "David." Not yet a "Dr". Went back to Cambridge over the break to sit my viva (oral exam on my PhD dissertation). The examiners were split and are still argiung about my fate.

See page 3 of guide for details. My office where all tutorials are held: Room 414 Napier Building. Phone no. 3228 5604. I can also be contacted at home, phone no: 3531691.

A. Information Card

Information card to contain:

  • Your name
  • Your address (home or contact address) and phone number
  • Proposed major and departmental box no.
  • What other history/politics courses have you done/are doing?
  • Are you a second or third year student?

B. Tutorial Times

Pass around tutorial sign-up sheet.

Wednesdays 10.10-11.00 am 11.10-12.00am 3.15-4.05pm

Fridays 10.10-11.00am 11.10-12.00am

C. History Subject Librarians.

You should be aware of who they are and how they can help you. Do not hesitate to see them if you have difficulties finding material. Pat Scott and Marg Hosking: phone: 228 506. Marg Hosking will be running a seminar for those choosing to do the research essay instead of the exam, at a time to be determined.

D. Study Guide

Contents, programme, attendance at lectures and tutorials, assessment, papers and essay, penalties for late or long papers, resubmission, texts.

Go through guide.

E. Ground Rules for the Course

  • My obligations and duties include giving lectures and tutorials, marking papers, being available at other times. I endeavour to return marked papers the week after submission with comments justifying my marking. Feel free to come and see me during my office hours or ring me at home if you have any problems or questions.
  • Your obligations include attending lectures and tutorials, coming to tutorials adequately prepared, participating in tutorial discussions, and handing in papers on time. Workload assumes a 40 hour week or about 13 hours for this course (including about 10 hours private study).
  • Attendance at lectures is not compulsory but strongly recommended. An additional incentive to attend lectures is the fact that I will occasionally provide handouts of extracts of primary sources, which will only be given to those at the lectures. However, attendance at tutorials is required. If you cannot attend a tutorial please ring in advance to give your apologies. I welcome questions in the lecture.
  • There will be a penalty of 2 points per day for late papers unless prior arrangements have been made with me for an extension or if you have been sick (medical certificate is required). There is also a penalty for excessively long papers. It is an important skill to learn how to write concisely and to a word limit. Please include an estimate of the word length on the title page of your paper. Those with computers should have word counting utilities. I will check these estimates and impose a penalty of 2 points per 100 words over the limit. (Students have ignored this at their peril. I have penalised some students 20-25 points for being grossly over the limit.)
  • Resubmission policy. You may resubmit written work if you are not satisfied with the mark. You can resubmit either by rewriting the paper in the light of my comments or you may respond to my comments in a separate paper. Surprising how few students take advantage of this. Up to you to judge usefulness of resubmitting, given demands of other courses.

F. Statement about Plagiarism

Bring your attention to university policy on plagiarism and related forms of cheating.

G. The Nature of Intellectual History

Not history of intellectuals but history of "ideas" - what people have thought and believed at various times in the past, how these ideas have changed over time, impact of these ideas on society.

1. The Realtionship Between Intellectual History and Other Kinds of History

  • Political history: deals with politicians, the political elite, political parties, elections, activity of parliament, vested interests, government policies, bureaucracy. Sources used include memoirs, election results, parliamentary papers, archives, newspapers.
  • Diplomatic history/International relations: deals with activity of ambassadors, government officials, embassies, parliament, committees. Sources: secret government papers, memoirs, government publications.
  • Social history: deals with daily life, women, peasants, slaves, working classes, economic activity, popular belief. Sources: often illiterate, government documents, census, surveys, church records, decriptions by literate elite.
  • Economic history: business leaders, companies, industries, nations/regions, international trade. Government reports and documents, archives, newspapers, company records, tax, census and other statistical records.
  • Intellectual history: deals with what people thought about, including policial power, an individual or class's place in society, science, art, music, culture, religion. Sources used: works of theory, propaganda, literature, memoirs, analysis of symbols, newspapers, journals, film.

In this course we will be examining a broad range of source material including:

  • traditional political philosophy (Jeremy Benthsam, John Stuart Mill, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Benjamin Constant)
  • economic theory (Thomas Malthus, Jean-Baptiste Say, John Stuart Mill)
  • sociology (Herbert Spencer, Alexis de Tocqueville)
  • legal theory (Albert Dicey)
  • political polemics/propaganda (Joseph-Pierre Proudhon, Frédéric Bastiat, Richard Cobden, Jeremy Bentham)
  • parliamentary speeches (Richard Cobden, John Bright, Alexis de Tocqueville, Frédéric Bastiat)
  • literature (Stendhal, George Eliot, Theodor Fontane, Alessandro Manzoni)

2. Importance of Intellectual History

Many of these points also true for other kinds of historical study.

  • Power of ideas to influence human action. An individual's belief about how society does or should function, the relationship between the individual and social structures like the state of the church, determine nature of government policies, the motivation for reform, the readiness to go to war or participate in revolution.
  • The existence of persistent moral problems concerning individual freedom, the extent of government power, the rights and duties of the individual vis-à-vis the state/community, the nature of violence and oppression. What individuals in the past thought and wrote on these issues and the way in which they attempted to deal with them is a guide to help us understand these same problems.
  • The study of the past helps us to understand the present better. Much of our own belief and social, political and economic structures are the results of past belief and practices. The study of the past helps us see how our own ideas and institutions have evolved. This gives us a critical perspective with which to view our present beleifs and institutions. Historical analysis (of whatever kind) should lead us to critical awareness and appreciation of our present condition.
  • To dispel the "Whig" myth of constant progress. Realisation that our time (belief and institutions) is not perfect. Other periods have something to tell us about tolerance, humanity, how to solve problems.
  • To realise that our time is not permanent. Study of the past helps us appreciate the fact that ideas and institutions have constantly changed and are continuing to change, sometimes by evolution, sometimes by revolution. Again, past teaches us to see the present critically.

3. Importance of 19th Century Intellectual History - Liberalism

Some reasons why the study of 19th century liberalism is important.

  • Many of the political, economic, and legal freedoms we enjoy today (freedom of speech, the right to vote, freedom from arbitrary arrest) were established in the 19th C. If we value them we should try to understand how they came about, often as a result of political struggle against powerful vested interests.
  • Emergence of liberal industrial capitalism in the 19th C in Europe, again as a result of a struggle against vested interests. Introduced period of economic growth and prosperity never before seeen in human history. We are still experiencing this process which has now spread to other parts of the world. Perhaps greatest revolution the world has known. Important to know how it began and the role ideas played in its development.
  • 19th C saw the development in their modern form of the main political ideologies: conservatism, liberalism, socialism, feminism. In the first half of the 19th C liberalism was the radical political philosophy challenging the status quo. Replaced by socialism later in the century.

H. Continuing Relevance of 19th Century Liberalism to Ideological Conflicts of the Present

19th C full of ideological conflict which has continued into the 20thC: clash between liberal reformers and conservative defenders of the status quo, between radical democrats and moderate liberals, between regulators and deregulators of the economy, between socialists and defenders of the free market.

Contemporary parallels include

  • The emergence of the so-called "New Right" in the 1980s and their policies of deregulation, privatisation, cutting taxes and allowing market forces to govern. Very much a continuation of the liberal agenda of 19thC.
  • The attempt to free up international trade under the auspices of GATT (General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade) of which Australia is an active member. Movement to reduce tariffs in both manufactured and agricultural products.
  • The exapnsion and deepening of the European Economic Community to create a truly open market in Europe by 1992. Parallels with the association of German states in a customs union in the 1830s - the Zollverein, which led to the rapid expansion of the German economy in the late 19thC.
  • The rediscovery of the rule of law, freedom of speech, liberal democracy, and the free market in Eastern Europe. Sudden collapse of cummunism in Eastern Europe in 1989 and the gradual introduction of liberal economic and political institutions continues the process of the 19thC. One could say that economic and political liberalism began in Britian in the late 17th and 18th centuries and has been spreading eastwards ever since. It faced a temporary setback with the failure of the liberal revolutions of 1848, the rise of German militarism in the late 19thC, the devastating series of European wars in the 20thC, the rise of communism in Eastern Europe. But has now resumed its progress when the economic, political, and intellectual bankruptcy of communism was revealed last year.

A study of the 19thC ideas which inspired this change will help us understand what is going on in the present.



II. What is Liberalism?

A. Summary

  • Various forms of political spectrum in order to place political ideologies in relationship to each other.
  • Left vs right (Montagnards vs Girondin)
  • Conservative vs radical/reformer (in vs out)
  • One dimensional Control vs freedom
  • Two dimensional control vs freedom. Example of how an ideology may move over graph. E.g. old/classical liberalism - new liberalism - modern liberalism and social democracy. Transformation of modern labour parties in NZ and Australia.
  • Problem of defining liberalism. Discuss 5 different ways in which liberalism has been defined.
  • Temperament or culture
  • method of government - Ruggiero and Salvadori
  • ideology of rising bourgeois class - Marxist
  • negative ideology - defined in opposition to conservatism and authoritarianism (Dunn) or idea of "negative" freedom (Constant and Berlin)
  • coherent body of principles and integral tradition - Gray

B. The Political Spectrum

C. The Problem of Defining Liberalism

Problem shared with all political ideologies in that they have a variety of forms and meanings. Who is a "true" socialist, Marxist, liberal, conservative, feminist? How do we know? One solution is to view ideologies in historical context. In early 19thC "classical" liberalism anti-state, pro-laissez-faire but by late 19thC become transformed into so-called "new" liberalism which supported aspects of welfare state and limited restrictions of individual freedom. 19thC liberalism ranged from the near anarchism of Herbert Spencer and Gustave de Molinari to the near socialism of Green, Hobhouse, and JS Mill. Late 20thC liberalism (as espoused by modern Liberal Party) something else again.

Similar problem with Marxists and Labour Parties. Classical Marxism of late 19thC compared to modern forms. E.G. Gorbachev at recent party congress believed he could combine "Marxism/Leninism" with deregulation of economy, easing of restrictions on press, multy-party elections, changes to constitution to provide "rule of law" protection to individual freedom.

Another solution might be to see ideologies as determined by distinctive national history, instututions, beliefs. British liberalism is different from Continental (French, German) and American liberalism. Siedentop, Ruggiero, Hayek argue that two distinct forms of liberalism emerged. One British (empirical and evolutionary), the other Continental/French (individualistic, revolutionary). Problem of fitting in American liberalism.

Hayek's disparing quote from "Individualism: True or False," in Individualism and Economic Order pp. 2-3 about different meanings of term "individualism" also applicable to "liberalism" and other political ideologies.

The difficulty which we encounter (in attempting to define "individualism") is not merely the familiar fact that the current political terms are notoriously ambiguous or even that the same term often means nearly the opposite to different groups. There is the much more serious fact that the same word frequently appears to unite people who in fact believe in contradictory and irreconcilable ideals. Terms like "liberalism" or "democracy," "capitalism" or "socialism," today no longer stand for coherent systems of ideas. They have come to describe aggregations of quite heterogeneous principles and facts which historical accident has associated with these words but which have little in common beyond having been advocated at different times by the same people or merely under the same name.

D. Five Ways in which Historians have Defined Liberalism

  • as a particular temperament or culture
  • as a method of government
  • as the ideology of a rising class
  • as a "negative" ideology (defined in opposition to the status quo)
  • as a coherent, integral tradition and body of principles.

1. Liberalism as Temperament or Culture

a) "liberality of mind". Use of liberal in this sense harks back to classical virtues of humanity, generosity, tolerance, open-mindedness. This is way Adam Smith used the word. When it is used as adjective can be used to describe a "liberal" dictator, "liberal-minded" reformers in the Soviet Union.

b) "set of cultural/political assumptions". Historian of liberalism, Antony Arblaster, Rise and Decline of Western Liberalism (1984) believes liberalism is a set of assumptions about the world which are implicit and not explicitly defined. Quote p.6

Its major battles - for certain forms of political freedom and tolerance and for lawful rather than arbitrary government - have been fought and won (in the West at least). And with its crusading days in the past it exists for the most part now as widely diffused ethos, or ideology - vague and somewhat directionless, no doubt, but nevertheless influential in determining attitudes and outlook at the most fundamental level, the level of assumptions which are so deeply ingrained that they are hardly ever made explicit, or argued for or over...
Liberalism in its contemporary form is not so much a set of ideas or doctrines to which people subscribe by conscious choice; it is a way of seeing the social world, and a set of assumptions about it, which are absorbed by the individual in so natural and gradual a manner that he or she is not conscious of their being assumptions at all. Liberalism makes up a large part of the intellectual air we breathe - so much so that the very word 'intellectual' is often misleading if is taken to mean available only to those who are intellectuals by profession or training. Liberal assumptions are far more widely diffused that that. They are among the commonplaces of our time and society.

AB calls the pervasiveness of liberalism in the modern world the "banality of liberalism" (p.10). Believes it is now the ideology of "modernity", i.e.the beliefs and institutions which have evolved in the West since the Renaissasnce.

Liberalism should be seen not in fixed and abstract terms as a collection of unchanging moral and political values, but as a specific historical movement of ideas in the modern era that begins with the Renaissance and the Reformation. As such it has undergone many changes and requires a historical rather than a purely conceptual and inherently static type of analysis. (p. 11)

This definition is so all-encompassing that it is practically useless.

2. Liberalism as a means or Method of Government

Argued by Guido de Ruggiero in History of European Liberalism (1927). Liberalism presumes the existence of what he calls a critical and polemical party. A loyal opposition which can enter government without a revolution taking place. It also refers to the particular art of government in such a system. Increasing particpation in choosing the elected representatives and decision-making. The search for consensus of opinion before decisions are made. The cooperation of the public rather than imposing decisions upon it. The opposite of the authoritarian style of government.

Liberalism also means to GR the use of freedom as the means of government. The ends of government policy can vary eg, from regulation to deregulation of the economy (new vs old liberalism) but so long as the style or spirit of rule is "liberal" then the system is a liberal one.

GR would probably see the developments taking place in Eastern Europe as essentially "liberal".

Similar view in Massimo Salvadori, The Liberal Heresy (1977), p. 12 and 48-9. View of L as means of governing not a specific end of politics:

Liberalism differs from all other ideological-political positions because it is not indentified with specific goals, but instead aims at creating the structure within which different goals coexist, come and go. It prescribes the unchanging method for the pursuit of ever-changing goals...
Whatever the modifications, basic institutions advocated by liberals (self-government, constitutionalism, democracy, the rule of law), and the spirit animating them, have remained essentially the same. They are the unchanging means through which the ever-changing ends can be achieved, and through which results promoting the advancement of mankind have been obtained. Because of what liberalism is, because what matters is the development of the abilities and capabilities with which individuals are endowed rather than with the continuation of any specific way of life, and because dynamism is good and stasis is harmful, liberal institutions are concerned with the way things are done more than with what is done. For a liberal, it is good and desirable that man should have new aspirations, that ends should change according to new aspirations and new situations. The unchanging method for achieving changing ends makes for the continuity and the preservation of a free way of life.

Partly right. Robert Nozick in Anrchy, State and Utopia (1974) has better definition - competing utopias? Framework for Utopia, p. 311.

The idea that there is one best ... society for everyone to live in, seems to me to be an incredible one. (And the idea that, if there is one, we now know enough to describe it is even more incredible.) ...
The conclusion to draw is that there will not be one kind of community existing and one kind of life led in utopia. Utopia will consists of utopias, of many different and divergent communities in which people lead different kinds of lives under different institutions. Some kinds of communities will be more attractive to most than others; communities will wax and wane. People will leave some for others or spend their whole lives in one. Utopia is a framework for utopias, a place where people are at liberty to join together voluntarily to pursue and attempt to realise their own vision of the good life in the ideal community but where no one can impose his own utopian vision upon others.

3. Liberalism as the Ideology of the Rising Bourgeoisie

Marxist interpretation of the origin of liberalism. Ideology most suited to the needs of the new class in its struggle against the old regime, feudalism in 18th and early 19thC. Later useful against rising working class in late 19thC.

4. Liberalism as a "Negative" Ideology

a). View of John Dunn, Western Poltical Theory (1979). Liberal ideology emerged in opposition to conservatism and autocracy. Liberalism thus can only be viewed historically, in context of this opposition. p. 29

A ... major difficulty with the analysis of liberalism lies in the term's extreme imprecision of reference. We may for a variety of motives, good, bad and indifferent, disagree on what constitutes the necessary and sufficient conditions for being a democrat. But at least no one is likely to dispute that being a democrat is a fundamentally political value. In the case of liberalism, however, matters are very much less clear. In self-description at any rate, being a liberal is often a matter of broad cultural allegiance and not of politics at all - or certainly not of the major organisational issues of politics. If the central dispositional value of liberals is tolerance, their central political value is perhaps a fundamental antipathy towards authority in any of its forms. The antithesis of liberalism is certainly not socialism - however much laissez-faire economists like Friedman and Hayek may wish to persuade us it is so. It is perhaps closer to a helpful starting point to suggest two different antitheses for liberalism - antitheses which give to the word liberalism itself slightly different senses: firstly conservatism and secondly autocracy.

Dunn begins by sharing Arblaster's view that liberalism is really only "broad cultual allegiance" and not coherent set of political and economic beliefs. Furthermore, it is a mistake by Dunn to reject idea that liberalism also developed in opposition to socialism. As Gray argues, liberal opposition to socialism as well as conservatism important to development of liberalism. EG Herbert Spencer, Mackay, Bastiat, Tocqueville, most political economists (except for ambivalence of JSMill).

Compare Gray's definition. Opposition changed but principles remained the same - opposition to feudalism, mercantilism, democracy and socialism, 20th C statism.

b) View of Benjamin Constant (1767-1830), French liberal politician, journalist, political theorist in Restoration period. Viewed 'modern" liberty in "negative" sense of freedom from state interference. In oppostition to "ancient" or "positive" freedom. He distinguished between freedom as understood by ancient Greeks and Romans - "ancient liberty" - and freedom as understood by Europeans in late 18th and early 19thC - "modern" liberty.

Ancient liberty - freedom defined as right to participate in elections and other political institutions of the city-state/polis (eg Athens). Those who could not participate (included women, slaves, foreigners, those citizens ostracised by the state) were not free. BC rejected the ancient view of liberty because it was not universal, it could and often did violate the rights of individuals with impunity (seize their property, prevent their free practice of religion or speech), those who practised this form of liberty highly estimed the ethics and life-style of warriors and disdained that of industrious people.

BC's view of modern liberty. Private sphere of all individuals protected by state (shared by W von Hu,mboldt and JSM's view of liberty in On Liberty). Power of state strictly limited in what it could do to its citizens. Power of majority limited - not able to violate the rights of minority.

c) Modern political philosopher Isaiah Berlin taken up BC's distinction between ancient and modern liberty - "positive" and "negative" liberty. Isaiah Berlin, "Two Concepts of Liberty," in Four Essays on Liberty (Oxford University Press, 1969).

Handout - extract from Berlin's article.

Positive freedom - answer to question "by whom am I to be governed". One is free to the extent that one can participate in choosing one's rulers.

Negative freedom - answer to question "how much am I to be governed." One is free to the extent that one is not coerced/governed by others. Not unfree because one is unable to attain a goal.

IB also shares BC's idea of "protected sphere" which must never be violated, in other words a frontier /barrier which separates and limits the power of the public vis-à-vis private activity. Defended by JS Mill in On Liberty (1859) and Benjamin Constant. Interesting consequence of this view of liberalism is that freedom and democracy are not the same thing. Negative freedom can be compatible with non-democratic forms of government. Liberty in the negative sense is concerned with the degree of state control over the individual, not with the source of its legitimacy (i.e. whether it is demcratically selelcted or not). IB believes that the question "who governs me?" is logically distinct from the question "how far does the government interfere with me?" Quote p. 129-30 of Berlin.

...liberty in this sense is not incompatible with some kinds of autocracy, or at any rate with the absence of self-government. Liberty in this sense is principally concerned with the area of control, not with its source. Just as a democracy may, in fact, deprive the individual citizen of a great many liberties which he might have in some other form of society, so it is perfectly conceivable that a liberal-minded despot would allow his subjects a large measure of personal freedom. The despot who leaves his subjects a wide area of liberty may be unjust, or encourage the wildest inequalities, care little for order, or virtue, or knowledge; but provided he does not curb their liberty, or at least curbs it less than many other régimes, he meets with Mill's specification. Freedom in this sense is not, at any rate logically, connected with democracy or self-government. Self-government may, on the whole, provide a better guarantee of the preservation of civil liberties than other régimes, and has been defended as such by libertarians. But there is no necessary connection between individual liberty and democratic rule. The answer to the question "Who governs me?" is logically distinct from the question "How far does government interfere with me?" It is in this difference that the great contrast between the two concepts of negative and positive liberty, in the end, consists.

Important analytical distinction which can be used to help understand how liberalism evolved during the 19thC.

Early/classical/"old" liberalism in the first half of the century believed in "negative" freedom, that one was free to the extent that one was not governed, especially by the state, which was considered to be the greatest threat to individual liberty. One was free "from" the state's interference in one's personal life.

However, later in 19thC, under influence of JS Mll's work, especially the later editions of the Principles of Political Economy (1st edition 1848), liberals came to adopt the other defintion of freedom. The socalled "new" liberals, Green and Hobhouse, no longer believed the state was the prime enemy of individual freedom. One was free to the degree to which one could do certain things or the amount of choice available to an individual. The state was now seen as the means by which the individual's capacity to do things or the number of choices available to the individual could be increased. Thus, one could achieve freedom "through" the state, not in opposition to it.

5. Liberalism as a Coherent Body of Principles

This was view of many early 19thC anti-state liberals ("old" liberals as distinct from "new" liberals in later 19thC). Best example is Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) in Social Statics (1851). Also Wilhelm von Humboldt, Benjamin Constant, JS Mill.

Also held by modern Oxford political philosopher John Gray in Liberalism (1986). JG argues that liberalism emerged out of a series of historical struggles (thus a bit like Dunn's view) firstly against feudalism and ancient regime, then mercantilism, then 19thC democracy and socialism, then 20thC statism (communism, fascism, welfare state). Liberals stressed different aspects of the ideology at different times, depending upon the opposition. Nevertheless, JG argues, there exists "a set of distinctive features" which define a liberal. In other words, JG beleives there is a "single tradition", "an integral outlook" which defines what liberalism is.

JG - liberal, to be a liberal, must have a belief in following:

  • individualism - the moral primacy of the individual against the claims of society
  • egalitarianism - equal moral status of all individuals, equality before the law and not equality of economic conditions
  • universalism - all humans have moral worth, rights and obligations not a result of class, birth, race, sex, religion
  • meliorism - belief in the possibility of individual and social improvement, i.e. progress

JG concludes that elements of liberal belief are ordered anew at different times, that different aspects of liberal ideology are stressed at different historical moments and as a result of different national and historical factors, but that there still is one liberal tradition. Different forms of liberalism are only the "separate branches of a common lineage."

E. List of Key Beliefs which Defined a Liberal in the 19th Century

However, I believe our examination of 19thC liberalism will show that there are some common beliefs which tie liberals together into a single tradition. There are two common denominators - individualism and scepticism towards established authority.

Individualism - concern for the importance and dignity of the individual vis-à-vis society. Fear that individual can be overwhelmed.

Scepticism/rejection even of authority/power as a means of solving problems and organising society.

From these two basic principles arise a group of other beliefs which most, perhaps all liberals in the 19thC supported. The following is a list of key beliefs which I believe all liberals must adhere to to some extent in order for them to be part of the liberal tradition.

  • individualism - the sovereignty and moral autonomy of the individual
  • anti-authority - especially against the church and the state
  • individual liberty
  • property rights - freedom of contract
  • free market - social harmony
  • limited government - limited by a constitution and/or bill of rights
  • electoral reform - democracy to some extent
  • opposition to war and imperialism
  • national self-determination
  • faith in reason, science, progress - optimism for the future.

Next week lecture on "The Nature of Individual Liberty" or philosophy of "individualism" as it was sometimes known as. Ideas of W v Humboldt, JS Mill, Herbert Spencer.

Next week's tutorials on Topic 1 "What is Liberalism?". Look at Bramsted and Melhuish's intro, John Gray's book, Berlin's full article.



III. LIBERTY I: Individual Liberty or the Theory of Individualism

A. Introduction

Concept of Individual Liberty also known as theory of "individualism" in 19th C. Two expressions used interchangably in this lecture.

Individualism one of key concepts of liberalism, perhaps the key concept. Disputed by Hayek - true and false individualism.

For liberals like Wilhelm von Humboldt, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer all the other aspects of the liberal philosophy logically follow on from it.


  • Extent of individualism in 19thC
  • origin of term "individualism," coined by its opponents
  • basic ideas of individualism and some of the implications this concept has for liberal economic and political theory

Next lecture discuss the ideas of leading individualist liberals:

  • Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Limits of State Action, ed. J.W. Burrow (Cambridge University Press, 1969) (written 1791-92, not published 1852)
  • JSMill's view of individual liberty in On Liberty, ed. Gertrude Himmelfarb (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984) (1859) Written under influence of WvH

B. Individualism in the 19th Century

The period from the late 18th to the mid 19th C is the heyday of individualist thought.

Typical view is François Guizot's that history was all about the emancipation of the individual from the fetters of society.

Guizot was an influential liberal French statesman and historian. In Histoire de la civilisation en Europe, depuis la chute de l'Empire romain jusqu'à la Révolution française (published in 1839 but given as lectures in 1828-30) Guizot argued that the entire course of European history has been leading up to the emancipation of the individual from the twin fetters of the state and the church so that the development of the individual can take place.

In the introductory lecture Guizot asks himself an important theoretical question, what he calls "the major fact of civilisation" whether the individual exists for the benefit of society or society for the benefit of individuals:

Is it for the perfecting of his social condition, for the improvement of his/her existance on the earth, that man develops all his faculties, his sentiments, his ideas. his entire being? Or rather, is it the improvement of the social condition, the progress of society, and society itself which is only the theatre, the occasion, the motive force for the development of the individual? In other words is society created for the use of the individual or is the individual created for the use of society? What inevitably depends on the answer given to this question is whether the destiny of man is purely social, if society draws on and absorbs all apects of a man, or if man carries within himself something foreign, something superior to his earthly existence?

Guizot, Histoire, p. 68.

The answer he and other liberal individualists gave is of course that society exists for the benefit of the individual and not vice versa.

C. Extent of Individualism in the 19th Century

It is not usually appreciated how widespread individualism was in the 19th century. One of the best informed historians of individualist thought, Albert Schatz who wrote L'individualisme économique et sociale. Ses origines. Son évolution. Ses formes contemporaines (1907), has uncovered a very large number of writers who could be associated with the term individualism. They range from Mill and Spencer, Bastiat and Dunoyer, and Proudhon and Stirner. They include Christians and free thinkers, liberals and socialists, limited government advocates and anarchists.

The geographical spread of individualist thought is also impressive. In England it includes John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer whom we will discuss in this course; Auberon Herbert and Wordsworth Donsithorpe who were radical liberal individualists associated with the Liberty and Property Defense Leauge in the late 19th century; the anti-war Quaker and liberal MP John Morley, who is famous for being one of only two MPs who voted not to declare war on Germany in August 1914; and the famous legal historian Albert Dicey.

In France there is Benjamin Constant, the economist Jean-Baptiste Say, Charles Dunoyer and Charles Comte who were important liberal journalists, historians and sociologists in the Restauration period 1815-30; the politician and free trader Frédéric Bastiat; the politician and sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville; and the economist, journalist and radical liberal Gustave de Molinari.

In Germany there are the philosophers Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schelling and Johann Gottlieb Fichte; Wilhelm von Humboldt; the anarchists Max Stirner and John Henry Mackay.

In America there is Thomas Jefferson; the individualist anarchists Josiah Warren, Stephen Pearl Andrews, Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner; and the sociologist and anti-imperialist agitator William Graham Sumner.

D. Origin of Term

Best historical account is Steven Lukes, Individualism (1973).

Irony that the opponents of liberal individualism coined the term. Only later did individualists adopt the term to describe their own political and economic beliefs. Still retains negative connotations. Confusing attempt to distinguish between negative idea of "individualism" and more positive term "individuality."

Criticism of individualism came from 3 main directions:

  • the traditionalist critique, which came from the French conservative, Catholic counter-revolutionaries Joseph Marie, Comte de Maistre; Louis Gabriel Amboise, Viscomte de Bonald; and F. de Lamennais. Feared individualism of French Revolution destroyed and still in process of destroying bastions of power and control - the church and the state. Believed individual liberty would lead to anarchy, end of feeling if duty and obligation to one's superiors.
  • the sociological critique of the early French socialists Claude Henri, Count de Saint-Simon and August Comte and later by Karl Marx. Believed new emerging industrial order required rule by technocratic elite which would be destabilised by individual liberty.

Marx rejected idea of abstract individual implicit in idea of "individualism." KM believed that advocates of individualism argued that individual acted outside or in opposition to broader community. False view or caricature of theory of individualism. Individualists never wanted individual to exercise freedom outside of or in opposition to community. Distinction they used was between voluntary cooperation betwen free individuals vs coerced or forced cooperation.

  • the nationalist or statist critique of Friedrich List and many other German political economists. Believed individual liberty in economic sphere (free trade and laissez-faire) would lead to neglect of welfare of state/nation. Policies which sacrificed interests of individuals (e.g. tariffs and subsidies to industry) good for national economic development.

E. The Basic Ideas of Individualism

The liberal idea of individualism can be broken down into 6 basic components. These are:

  • concept of the abstract individual and the idea of methodological individualism - Hayek's idea of two methodologies, one suitable for hard sciences, the other for social sciences.
  • dignity of individual - Kant's idea of individual as end not means.
  • autonomy and moral responsability - Mill's fear that weight of convention would destroy individual autonomy.
  • self-fulfillment and development - Burckhardt placed origin in Italian Renaissance. Humboldt and Bildung. Freedom essential for this. Hayek's opposition to false, "excessive" individualism.
  • privacy - need for protected private sphere. Mill's idea of freedom to plan one's own life.
  • social and individual experimentation - Mill's advocacy of eccentricity and plurality of paths. Modern version in Nozick's idea of competing utopias.

I would like to briefly explain what I mean by these concepts.

1. The Concept of the Abstract Individual and Methodological Individualism

Only give brief summary as this very complex issue. Summary:

  • individual basic building block of society, analogous to atom in physics, irreducable element
  • individuals exist prior to society. John Locke, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.
  • sovereignty of individual ultimate and only source of social authority
  • purpose of society originally to satisfy individual needs such as protection, security. Guizot and Turgot.

This approach to looking at the social sciences has led to the creation of what has been called "methodological individualism". The two best known exponents of methodological individualism have been Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper.

2. The Dignity of the Individual


  • intrinsic value of every individual
  • origin in Judeo-Christian concept of worth of each soul before god
  • Kant's idea as man as an end in himelf not a means for someone else's end
  • individual should not be sacrificed for or by the state, church, community
  • ideal of individual worth stated in Enlightenment political documents such as American Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights and French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen

It is an article of faith to liberal individualists that every individual person has a certain intrinsic value which should be respected. The origin of this idea lies in the Judeo-Christian concept of the value of every soul in the eyes of God. The political implications of the value of the individual was realised by the English Puritans in the 17th century and the by the American and French revolutionaries in their declarations of rights. One of the best expressions of the intrinsic value of the individual was given by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant in Foundations of the Metaphysic of Morals written in 178? Kant's view was that every individual should be regarded as an end in themselves rather than as some one else's means to their own end. Thus slavery in Kant's philosophy is prohibited because the slave becomes a means to the happiness (the end) of the slave-owner.

Quote from Kant in Luke, p. 49., and in general every rational being, exists as an end in himself, not merely as a means for arbitrary use by this or that will: he must in all his actions, whether they are directed to himself or to other rational beings, always be viewed at the same time as an end...(Rational beings)... are called persons because their nature already marks them out as ends in themselves - that is, as something which ought not to be used merely as a means - and consequently imposes to that extent a limit on all arbitrary treatment of them ( and is an object of reverence).

This implies that the individual as an end in him or herself should not be sacrificed for or by the interests of the church, the state, a particular class, or other group in the community.

3. Autonomy and Moral Resposability


  • thought and action is own's own, i.e. inner-directed
  • possibility and desirability of rational reflecion and evaluation of oneself and one's surroundings
  • origin in Reformation demand for individual to read Bible and make own judgement. Enlightenment applied this attitude to politics.
  • Kant and Spinoza believe freedom is autonomy of individual
  • implies individual must be held accountable for actions
  • JS Mill's fear that modern world was becoming one of conformity. Individuals becoming less autonomous and critical

By individual autonomy I mean that one's thoughts and actions are one's own, that they are inner-directed rather than imposed from outside the individual. By moral responsability I mean that if one's thoughts and actions are inner-directed then the originator of the thoughts and actions should be held responsable for them. This implies that one is conscious of and capable of critical evaluation of the circumstances in which one finds oneself. At a more fundamental level autonomy assumes that it is possible and desirable for the individual to engage in rational reflection, at least to some extent. If rational reflection and the action which follows from such reflection is impossible then it is meaningless to talk about autonomous individuals being responsable for their actions. Once again we can trace the origin of these liberal concepts back to the Reformation when Protestants prefered to be true to their conscience instead of obeying the dictates of the Catholic church. It is also clear that the 19th century liberal faith in the capacity of the ordinary person to reason and act according to conscience was inheritied from the 18th century exultation of "Reason". However, not all 19th century liberals were so confident in the power of reason. One of JS Mill's greatest fears, expressed in On Liberty (1859) about the modern world was that the power exerted on the individual by society to conform to particluar conventions and moral codes would become so great that it would gradually crush any desire for independent and autonomous action by individuals.

Quote Mill, One Liberty, p. 63:

Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandeates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslving the soul itslef. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs to be protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendancy of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible, prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs as protection against political despotism.

4. Individual Self-fulfillment


  • ideal of self-cultivation. Jacob Burckhardt and renaissance. German romantics and uniqueness of individuals, quality of individual talent. Greek concept of eudaimonism
  • ideal of perfecting one's individuality. Wilhelm von Humboldt, chapter 8, "Amelioration of morals," pp. 71 ff and JS Mill, On Liberty, chapter 3, "Of Individuality, as One of the Elements of Well-Being."
  • political freedom essential for this to occur. Negative freedom. Benjamin Constant

The Swiss liberal historian Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897) thought he could identify the origin of the modern idea of individual development in the Italian Renaissance. In part II, "The Development of the Individual" in his book The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860) Burckhardt argued that in the art and politics of the Renaissance the modern individual was created.

For some reason German writers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries were particularly sensitive to the uniqueness of the individual and the importance of individual talent. The process of developing the individual was called Bildung and it was central to the philosophy of Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835). Like many German philosophers H was profoundly influenced by the classical education he had received, in particular the Greek ideal of perfecting the individual, known as eudaimonism. This was reflected in H's most famous work The Limits of State Action, written in 1791 but not published until 1852.

Quote Humboldt, p. 16:

The true end of Man, or that which is prescribed by the eternal and immutable dictates of reason, and not suggested by vague and transient desires, is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consisten whole. Freedom is the first and indispensable condition which the possibility of such a development presupposes; but there is besides another essential - intimately connected with freedom, it is true - a variety of situations. Even the most free and self-reliant of men is hindered in his development, when set in a monotonous situation. But as it is evident, on the one hand, that such a diversity is a constant result of freedom, and on the other hand, that there is a species of oppression which, without imposing restrictions on man himself, gives a peculiar impress of its own to surrounding circumstances; these two conditions, of freedom and variety of situation, may be regarded, in a certain sense, as one and the same. Still it may contribute to clarity to point out the distinction between them.

These sentiments influenced JS Mill when he wrote On Liberty (1859) and I would like you to pay particular attention to Humboldt's individualism when you read chapter 3 "Of Individuality, as One of the Elements of Well-Being" for next week's tutorial.

5. Privacy


  • idea of protected sphere in which individual can enjoy private existence in a public world. Berlin and Constant
  • Constant's distinction between modern and ancient liberty (self-fulfillment through public activity)
  • influence of Christian mysticism. Privacy essential to examination of soul
  • Mill and Constant. Recall Mill's quote about "social tyranny" and "tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling."
  • Reservations about individualism. Tocqueville's fear that in democratic America excessive preoccupation with private conserns would lead to the neglect of public conserns and civic duties

In order for the individual to discover their individuality and to begin the sometimes difficult process of gradually perfecting it a certain protected sphere around the individual is needed. Within this protected sphere the individual can enjoy a private existence in an often intrusive public world. The desire for a protected private space is a key factor in the search for a set of individual rights which will mark out the boundary of the individual space from the public, state space. It was the fear that the space reserved for the individual would be destroyed that led liberals like Spencer and Mill to give so much importance to restricting the power of the community over the individual.

Benjamin Constant's distinction between Ancient and Modern liberty is relevant here. One of Constant's objections to the ancient concept of liberty was that individual self-realisation was achieved through participation in civic activity as a citizen rather than through individual examination and improvement. Mill too thought that modern liberty required a private sphere which should be independent of any public intrusion. InOn Liberty, p. 71 he defined it thus:

But there is a sphere of action in which society, as distinguished from the individual, has, if any, only an indirect interest: comprehending all that person's life and conduct which affects only himself or, if it also affects others, only with their free, voluntary, and undeceived consent and participation... This then, is the appropriate region of human liberty. It comprises, first, the inward domain of consciousness, demanding liberty of conscience in the most comprehensive sense, liberty of thought and feeling, absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological... Secondly, the principle requires liberty of tastes and pursuits, of framing the plan of our life to suit our own character... Thirdly, from this liberty of each individual follows the liberty, within the same limits, of combination among individuals.

Recall Marx's caricature of the "isolated individual."

6. Social and Individual Experimentation


  • follows from idea of privacy and self-perfection
  • each individual pursues good life as they see it
  • Mill's On Liberty, pp. 132-3, 138 on the value of "pronounced individuality", nonconformity, eccentricity, and "plurality of paths.
  • Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974) "capitalistic acts between consenting adults"

This idea is closely connected to the previous one of privacy but it is not always clearly enunciated by 19th century liberals. Although individualists like Spencer wanted individuals to exercise their freedoms as they saw fit they were often coy about what individuals would do within the private domain. Being good Victorians they were reluctant to talk about homosexuality for example but the practice of homosexuality was certainly within the boundaries of individual freedom which they advocated. JS Mill perhaps came closest to understanding what individual freedom implied with his statements about "plurality of paths", "nonconformity", and "eccentricity" and the importance of strong individuals acting differently to the mass of men.

Quote from On Liberty, p. 132:

The power of compelling others into it is not only inconsistent with the freedom and development of all the rest, but corrupting to the strong man himself. It does seem, however, that when the opinion of masses of merely average men are everywhere become or becoming the dominant power, the counterpoise and corrective to that tendency would be the more and more pronounced individuality of those who stand on the higher eminences of thought. It is these circumstances most especially that exceptional individuals, instead of being deterred, should be encouraged in acting differently from the mass. In other times there was no advantage in their doing so, unless they acted not only differently but better. In this age, the mere example of nonconformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigour, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

An interesting modern extension of Mill's idea of "more and more pronounced individuality" can be found in Anarchy, State and Utopia by Robert Nozick (1974) who argues that the fault in all previous political philsophies in general and in utopian thinking in particular is that it is assumed that there is one and only one path to individual happiness. Mill comes close to denying this in advocating a "plurality of paths". Nozick takes this idea one step further in criticising the desire of most utopian writers or social planners to make everyone conform to the same ideal behaviour and style of life. Instead Nozick advocates a very Millian solution to the problem of utopia - the existence of a multitude of different paths - or competing utopias.

Quote p. 311-12:

The idea that there is... one best society for everyone to live in, seems to me to be an incredible one...
The conclusion to draw is that there will not be one kind of community existing and one kind of life led in utopia. Utopia will consist of utopias, of many different and divergent communities in which people lead different kinds of lives under different institutions. Some kinds of communities will be more attractive to most than others; communities will wax and wane. People will leave some for others or spend their whole lives in one. Utopia is a framework for utopias, a place where people are at liberty to join together voluntarily to pursue and attempt to realize their own vision of the good life in the ideal community but where no one can impose his own utopian vision upon others.

F. Applications of Individualism to Social Organization

1. Politics


  • implies consent of the governed. Locke and implied consent. Contract theory. Right to resist tyrant if contract not being fulfilled
  • representation of individuals not estates or classes. Gradually came to include working class, women, slaves
  • purpose of government is to satisfy individual needs such as defense, police
  • otherwise leave individuals alone to pursue their own interests

2. Economics

  • implies laissez-faire
  • individuals pursue own interests
  • social progress achieved through individual self-realisation
  • harmony of interests. No necessary conflict between interests of society and indivuals

Next lecture discuss individualism of Humboldt and JS Mill.



IV. LIBERTY II: Individualism and the Idea of Individual Liberty in the Thought of Wilhelm von Humboldt and John Stuart Mill

A. Introduction

This lecture will deal with two of the leading 19th century individualists: Wilhelm von Humboldt and John Stuart Mill.

Whether the individual exists for society or whether society exists for the individual is one of the central issues of political philosophy.

JS Mill and Wilhelm von Humboldt believed that society, although vitally important to the individual in his or her pursuit of their own personal perfection, there was the constant danger that society would swamp the individual. Hence the problem individualists faced in defending the benefits of society and at the same time protecting the "private sphere" so essential for individual freedom and development.

B. The Individualism of Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835)

H is important for two reasons.

Firstly, because his is one of the most satisfying attempts to develop a positive philosophy of individualism. He combines the traditional "negative" aspects of liberalism (the constant criticism of the state) with a very positive argument about the need for individual liberty in order for the individual to develop his or her potential and talent.

Secondly, H is important because of the influence he had on two important figures in 19th c liberalism: Anne Louise Germaine Necker, Madame de Staël (1766-1817) and John Stuart Mill. Mme de Staël is important because she is one of the small number of liberal feminists and also because she ran a salon with Benjamin Constant at Coppet in Switzerland whilst in exile for her opposition to Napoleon. H taught Staël the German language which resulted in De l'Allemagne in 1810, which introduced German culture to the French speaking world and attempted to discover the relationship between culture and politics.

1. Biography of Humboldt

Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835). Born in Potsdam of Pomeranian noble and official family. Statesman, philologist, educational reformer. Older brother of the famous explorer and anthropologist Alexander. Served in Prussian Government as ambassador to Vatican in 1802; 1808 member of Prussian State Council - Minister of Public Instruction in Stein's reforming ministry; reforms of secondary education - Gymnasium, syllabus stressed linguiistic, Classics and all-round cultural development; helped found University of Berlin 1809; ambassador in Vienna for Congress of Vienna 1812-1817; 1818 Minister of the Interior and lead opposition to Hardenberg; resigned from government 1819 in opposition to Frederick William III's centralising policies and hostility to constitutional limits.

Extensive contacts in literary world: Mme de Stael, Goethe and Schiller.

Best known work on politics Ideen zu einem Versuch, die Grenzen der Wirksamkeit des Staates zu bestimmen (The Limits of State Action) (1791-92) written at age 24.

Connection between H and Mill's individualism. H's main work The Limits of State Action was posthumously published in 1852 just in time to profoundly influence Mill when he was writing On Liberty in 185? Dedication to H by Mill.

2. Humboldt's Individualism

H's individualism is a mixture of 5 elements which must be understood if his individualism is to be appreciated.

  • H was a man of the Enlightenment or Aufklärung and eagerly accepted the liberal economic ideas of the Physiocrats and faith in the idea that rationality could solve all mankind's problems.
  • He was influenced by the ideas of Leibniz and Lessing on the possibility of human perfectability. We have come across this idea before in the work of Condorcet.
  • He took from Kant the idea that there is an absolute moral law which individuals must recognize, that the individual is an end not a means, and that the soul has an inner freedom which requires political liberty in order to find expression.
  • From Jean-Jacques Rousseau he took the idea that feeling is an important source of human vitality and richness. This aspect of individualist thought is lacking in most of the liberal political economists and sociologists of the 19th century, who are often regarded as advocates of cold, rational economic calculation. The emotional and subjective aspect of H's individualism is is what makes H quite different from other liberals. Connection between Romanticism and Individualism?
  • Then there is the Philhellenism which is so common in the classical educated men of the period. H regarded the Greek concept of the well-rounded individual as the ideal and he incorporated this in his theory of Bildung.

These ideas were combined to give an individualism which argued that the true end of man "is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole." H's liberalism comes from the fact that in order to achieve this perfection "freedom is the first and indispensible condition".


Quote from The Limits of State Action, p. 1? From Chapter 2 "Of the individual man, and the highest ends of his existence."

The true end of Man, or that which is prescribed by the eternal and immutable dictates of reason, and not suggested by vague and transient desires, is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole. Freedom is the first and indispensable condition which the possibility of such a development presupposes...

Freedom is important because it creates diversity and the individual prospers best when he or she is confronted with the stimulation of diversity.

The rights of others should be respected, according to H., because other people are important because they too are a source of inspiration and experience which add to my own development. Compare with Karl Marx's caricature of the "isolatated" individual in liberal ideology. Defence of the idea of division of labour - each individual benefits in society by specializing.

Quote p. 16-17.

What is achieved, in the case of the individual... is produced in society by the mutual cooperation of its different members; for, in all stages of his life, each individual can achieve only one of those perfections, which represent the possible features of human character. It is through a social union, therefore, based on the internal wants and capacities of its members, that each is enabled to participate in the rich collective resources of all the others.

Far from being hostile to association H wants to increase social cooperation.

Quote p. 98 and 101 (not in handout).

... the whole tenor of the ideas and arguments unfolded in this essay might fairly be reduced to this, that while they would break all fetters in human society, they would attempt to find as many new social bonds as possible. The isolated man is no more able to develop than the one who is fettered.
...unions and associations, so far from having harmful consequences of themselves, are one of the surest and most appropriate ways of promoting and accelerating human development.

This then is a very different kind of individualism to the one criticised by Karl Marx. Far from assuming that the individual can survive in isolation from society H argues that the individual can only achieve development and perfection by living in society. So long as there are strict limits to what outside forces (whether it be other hostile individuals or the paternalistic state) can do to the individual.

This is the source of H's political liberalism in which the state was strictly limited to very minimal functions and in which all kinds of voluntary social activity is encouraged.

3. Critique of Paternalism

The opposite of individualism and spontaneous voluntary association was state paternalism. See chapter 3 "On the Solicitude of the State for the Positive Welfare of the Citizen."

H. attacked it for 3 reasons:

  • because it denies the essence of humanity, i.e. the freedom to choose and to develop one's potentialities in a spontaneous fashion.
  • the paternalistic state imposes uniformity on individuals and thus denies individuals the richness of experience which free association allows and the chance to learn from the varied experiences of others.
  • it weakens the initiative and independence of individuals whose needs and life choices are either made for them or limited in some way by the state.

H's warning about "a spirit of governing" (p. 23) predominating in a paternalistic society where states does everything for the individual.

Warning also about the creation of "new careers" in the State. Creates a vested interest in governing class to perpetuate paternalism and "lack of self sreliance" and dependency in those looked after by the state. (p. 34).

Discussed at greater length in lecture on limited government.

4. Idea of Unlimited Progress of Individual and Society

H theory of individualism implies belief in progress. Comparison of Herbert Spencer's theory and Humboldt's.

Herbert Spencer's theory of progress was linear, i.e. society progressed in a straight line from the simpler, military and church dominated feudal societies to the more complex, industrial society which he thought he could see emerging in 19th century Britain.

H's theory had no real direction at all. For H, progress meant endless experimentation and exploration of possibilities which free individuals would choose. Hence this kind of progress was both unpredictable and without a culmination point. There was no final state to be reached outside of the perfection of every individual as they chose to define it.

5. Humboldt's Vision of a Liberal Utopia

I would like to conclude my discussion of H with a statement of his vision of the future - a liberal utopia if you like. p. 36-3? See handout.

C. The Individualism of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

1. Biography of JSM

One of the mosrt important liberals of the 19thC and one of the most important political philosophers of all time. Eldest son of James Mill (1773-1836).

2. James Mill

JM was a well-known journalist and literary editor in London in the first decade of the 19thC. Met Jeremy Bentham in 1808 and became disciple and propagator of JB's theory of "utilitarianism" - the theory that what should guide both individual and government action is the principle of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number." JM also met economist David Rocardo in 1807, became influential in the "Political Economy Club" founded 1821, which help disseminate liberal political economy. Wrote a book in 1818 History of British India which led to job with East India Company. Important articles on Governemnt, Colonies for Supplement to Encyclopaedia Britannica (1824). Helped launch influential journal Westminster Review 182? Helped found University of London.

3. John Stuart Mill

JSM raised in the radical liberal/utilitarian circles in which his father moved. Privately educated by father. Learnt Greek at three, classical and historical literature by 8, political economy by writing commentaries on his father's book Elements of Political Economy (1821) at age eleven, and philosophy and mathematics by 1? History of his remarkable education described in Autobiography published 1873 shortly aftre his death. By time he was 18 JSM writing economic articles for Westminster Review from Bethamite perspective.

Not surprisingly JSM entered a period of intellectual and emotional crisis when he was 20. Mental breakdown which was also a crisis of faith in Benthamite, utilitarian orthodoxy which JSM proceeded to question. One result of this rethinking was On Liberty.

In 1823 joined father in East India company, where he remained until 1858 (35 years) when he retired as head of office. Entered parliament between 1865-68, where he had little influence but supported reform measures such as extension of franchise in 1867 and unsuccessful attempts to entend franchise to women. Greatest influence was as political philosopher (On Liberty (1859), Considerations on Representative Government (1861), Utilitarianism (1863), On the Subjection of Women (1869)), political economist (many editions of Principles of Political Economy (1848 1st edition)), and journalist.

4. Individualism of JSM in On Liberty (1859)

OL written in mid and late 1850s under influence of three factors:

  • JSM's continuing search for a better foundation for the theory of individual liberty than the Benthamite utilitarianism he had rejected in his mental crisis in 1826.
  • The influence of his long-standing lover who ultimately became his wife, Harriet Taylor, with whom JSM collaborated. The book appeared shortly after JSM's retirement from the East India comp. and the death of Harriet.
  • The publication of the English translation of Wilhelm von Humboldt's Limits to State Action.(1852)

OL is a short book and consists of an introductory chapter, which deals with the general problem of individual liberty, and 4 chpaters dealing with the application of his idea of liberty to a variety of issues. Chapter 2 on freedom of thought and discussion, chap 3 on how liberty contributes to individual development, chap 4 on the limits placed on the power of society/state over individuals, and chapter 5 on what JSM called "applications" of his theory of individual liberty to economic and social matters.

In his Autobiography JSM described OL as "a kind of philosophic textbook of a single truth" (quoted in Himmelfarb's intro to OL, p. 27). The "single truth" is the following passage from pp. 68-9 of Himmelfarb ed. of OL:

The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to someone else. The only part of the conduct of anyone for which he is amenable to society is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

(My empahsis).

In all areas of social and economic activity JSM sought to demonstrate the necessity of the principle of individual liberty - that the liberty of the individual should be absolute except in the case where that liberty did harm to another. Unless harm could be shown to result, all individuals had to be left alone by society/state/church. Problem of defining precisely what constiuted "harm", and political philosophers have been arguing over ever since.

I do not intend to preempt next week's tutorial discusion. Your task to read OL carefully and think about issues JSM raises there. Read in conjuction with Himmelfarb's intro and Himmelfarb's book On Liberty and Liberalism.. What follows is a selection of key passages which I want to draw to your attention.

a. Idea of "social tyranny"

... when society is itself the tyrant - society collectively over the separate individuals who compose it - its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandeates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslving the soul itslef. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs to be protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendancy of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible, prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs as protection against political despotism. (Introductory, p. 63)

b. Idea of Private "sphere of action"

But there is a sphere of action in which society, as distinguished from the individual, has, if any, only an indirect interest: comprehending all that person's life and conduct which affects only himself or, if it also affects others, only with their free, voluntary, and undeceived consent and participation... This then, is the appropriate region of human liberty. It comprises, first, the inward domain of consciousness, demanding liberty of conscience in the most comprehensive sense, liberty of thought and feeling, absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological... Secondly, the principle requires liberty of tastes and pursuits, of framing the plan of our life to suit our own character, of doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow, without impediment from our fellow creatures, so long as what we do does not harm them, even though they should think our conduct foolish, perverse, or wrong. Thirdly, from this liberty of each individual follows the liberty, within the same limits, of combination among individuals; freedom to unite for any purpose not involving harm to others: the persons combing being supposed to be of full age and not forced or deceived. (Introductory, p. 71)

c. Right of Free Speech

Let us suppose, therefore, that the government is entirely at one with the people, and never thinks of exerting any power of coercion unless in agreement with what it conceives to be their voice. But I deny the right of the people to exercise such coercion, either by themselves or by their government. The power itself is illegitimate. The best government has no more title to it than the worst. It is as noxious, or more noxious, when exerted in accordance with public opinion than when in opposition to it. If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner, if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race, posterity as well as the existing generation - those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error. ("Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion", p. 76.)

d. "Dead" vs "Living" Beliefs

If the teachers of mankind are to cognizant of all that they ought to know, everything must be free to be written and published without restraint.
If, however, the mischievous operation of the absence of free discussion, when the received opinions are ture, were confined to leaving men ignorant of the grounds of those opinions, it might be though that this, if an intellectual, is no moral evil and does not affect the worth of the opinions, regarded in their influence on the character. The fact, however, is that not only the grounds of the opinion are forgotten in the absence of discussion, but too often the meaning of the opinion itself. The words which convey it cease to suggest ideas, or suggest only a small proportion of those they were originally employed to communicate. Instead of a vivid conception and a living belief, there remain only a few phrases retained by rote; or, if any part, the shell and husk only of the meaning is retained, the finer essence being lost. The great chapter in human history which this fact occupies and fills cannot be too earnestly studied and meditated on.
It is illustrated in the experience of almost all ethical doctrines and religious creeds....
But when it (the creed) has come to be an heriditary creed, and to be received passiively, not actively - when the mind is no longer compelled, in the same degree as at first, to exercise its vital powers on the questions which its beliefs presents to it, there is a progressive tendency to forget all of the belief except the formularies, or to give it a dull and torpid assent, as it accepting it on trust dispensed with the necessity of realizing it in consciousness, or testing it by personal experience, until it almost ceases to connect itself at all with the inner life of the human being. Then are seen the cases, so frequent in this age of the world as almost to form the majority, in which the creed remains as it were outside the mind, incrusting and petrifying it against all other influences addressed to the higher parts of our nature; manifesting its power by not suffering any fresh and living conviction to get in, but itself doing nothing for the mind or heart except standing sentinel over them to keep them vacant. ("Though and Discussion," pp. 101-3)

e. Diversity in "Different Experiments of Living" make Progress possible

As it is useful that while mankind are imperfect there should be different opinions, so it is that there should be different experiments of living; that free scope should be given to varieties of character, short of injury to others; and that the worth of different modes of life should be proved practically, when anyone thinks fit to try them. It is desirable, in short, that in things which do not primarily concern others, individuality should assert itself. Where not the person's own character but the traditions or customs of other people are the rule of conduct, there is wanting one of the principle ingredients of human happiness, and quite the chief ingredients of individual and social progress. ("Of Individuality," p. 120)

f. Development of "Eccentricity" is Social Usefull

The power of compelling others into it is not only inconsistent with the freedom and development of all the rest, but corrupting to the strong man himself. It does seem, however, that when the opinion of masses of merely average men are everywhere become or becoming the dominant power, the counterpoise and corrective to that tendency would be the more and more pronounced individuality of those who stand on the higher eminences of thought. It is these circumstances most especially that exceptional individuals, instead of being deterred, should be encouraged in acting differently from the mass. In other times there was no advantage in their doing so, unless they acted not only differently but better. In this age, the mere example of nonconformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigour, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.
I have said that it is important to give the freest scope possible to uncustomary things, in order that it may in time appear which of these are fit to be converted into customs... If a person possesses any tolerable amount of commn sense and expereince, his own mode of laying out his existence is the best, not because it is the best in itself, but because it is his own mode. ("Of Individuality," pp. 132-3)

g. Only "Acts Injurious to Others" Should be Punished

Acts injurious to others require a totally different treatment. Encroachment on their rights; infliction on them of any loss or damage not justified by his own rights; falsehood or duplicity in dealing with them; unfair or ungenerous use of advantages over them; even selfish abstinence from defending them against injury - these are fit objects or moral reprobation and, in grave cases, of moral retribution and punishment.... Cruelty of disposition; malice and ill-nature;... envy; dissimulation and insincerity...; the love of domineering over others;... pride...; ...egotism... - these are moral vices and constitute a bad and odious moral character... They may be proofs of any amount of folly or want of personal dignity and self-respect, but they are only a subject of moral reprobation when they involve a breach of duty to others, for whose sake the individual is bound to have to care for himself. What are called duties to ourselves are not socially obligatory unless circumstances render them at the same time duties to others.("Of the Limits to Authority of Society," pp. 145)

"Applications," p. 163

h. A Theory of "Social Rights" a "Monstrous" Principle Harmful to Liberty

A theory of "social rights" the like of which probably never before found its way into distinct language: being nothing short of this - that it is the absolute social right of every individiaul that every other individual shall act in every respect exactly as he ought; that whosoever fails thereof in the smallest particular violates my social right and entitles me to demand from the legislature the removal of the grievance. So monstrous a principle is far more dangerous tahn any sinlge intereference with lioberty; there is no violation of liberty it would not justify; it acknowledges no right to any freedom whatever, except perhaps to that of holding opinions in secret, without ever disclosing them; for the moment an opinion which I consider noxious passes anyone's lips, it invades all the "social rights" attributed to me by the Alliance. The doctrine ascribes to all mankind a vested interest in each other's moral, intellectual, and even physical perfection, to be defined by each claimant according to his own standard. ("Of the Limits," p. 158)

i. Danger of Adding to Power of the Government - Creation of "Hangers-On"

Concerning three objections to government interference which do not infringe individual liberty.

The third most cogent reason for restricting the interference of government is the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its power. Every function superadded to those already exercised by the government causes its influence over hopes and fears to be more widely diffused, and converts, more and more, the active and ambitious part of the public into hangers-on of the government, or of some party which aims at becomning the government. If the roads, the railways, the banks, the insurance offices, the great joint-stock companies, the universities, and the public charities were all of them branhes of the government; if, in addition, the municipal corporations and local boards, with all that now devolves on them, became departments of the central administration; if the employees of all these different enterprises were appointed and paid by the government and looked to the government for every rise in life, not all the freedom of the press and popular constitution of the legislature would make this or any other country free otherwise than in name. And the evil would be greater, the more efficiently and scientifically the administrative machinery was constructed - the more skilful the arrangements for obtaining the best qualified hands and heads with which to work it. ("Applications," pp. 181-2)

Read for next week Steven Lukes, Individualism (1973); JSM, On Liberty (1859), Himmelfarb's intro and book On Liberty and LIberalism (1974)

Next week's lectures on two different ways in which liberals defended the idea of property rights - with reference to natural rights or utilitarianism.



V. PROPERTY I: Pre-19thC Natural Rights Defences of Property and the Benthamite Critique

A. Summary

Lecture 1: Examine the pre-19thC tradition of natural rights and the grounds used to justify property ownership. Jeremy Bentham's critique of natural rights and the emergence of Utilitarianism.

Lecture 2: the contined use of natural rights arguments to defend property in the 19thC - Thomas Hodgskin, Herbert Spencer.

B. Introduction

A fundamental change took place in the 19th C concerning the ultimate basis for defending the liberal order, i.e. individual liberty, property and limited government. This change was the weakening and eventual abandonment of a liberal theory of natural rights and its replacement with a new theory based upon the idea of UTILITY or usefulness.

The most important theorists of this new philosophy were Jeremy Bentham, James Mill and John Stuart Mill. Utilitarianism became the new orthodoxy of 19th C liberalism although some liberals like Herbert Spencer in Britain and a much larger group in France still adhered to the old natural rights defense of liberalism.

This change in the way liberty was defended had a very profound impact on the development of liberalism. Liberalism became less doctrinaire, less radical and more accomodating of the necessity for some forms of state intervention in private life.

According to utilitarians in the late 19th c there seemed to be no theoretical limit to what the state could do in the name of utility: from factory acts, sanitation, public education to taxation on income.

C. The Natural Law Tradition

The traditional justification for property and liberty had been based upon natural rights. The belief in natural rights presupposed a theory of natural law and a rationally ordered universe which was understandable to the mind of man. Just as a philosopher could observe the natural laws which controlled the motions of the heavenly bodies, the philosopher could also observe the laws which governed human society.

I would like to briefly discuss some of the most important natural law philosophers in order to illustrate some of the different aspects of the natural law tradition.

1. Aristotle

The natural law tradition can be traced back to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle whose Nicomachean Ethics is one of the key texts in the Western Natural law tradition. The distinction which A. makes between natural and customary law is a key element in the natural law tradition. The natural part of law is rational, observable, necessary to man's survival and universal. Customary law is on the other hand man-made, artificial, convential and not necessary in an essential manner to man's survival. Thus the distinction between natural and artifical.

2. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74)

Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica.. Aquinas stressed 2 things: the rational nature of man and the teleological aspect of natural law, i.e. that nature has given all creatures an end in life which is natural for them to pursue. By observing how man lives the philosopher can determine how man can live well, i.e. can live best according to his proper end. It was to enable man to live well and to fulfill his proper end that property and liberty were justified by Aquinas.

3. Hugo Grotius (1583-1645)

On the Law of War and Peace. Grotius stressed another aspect of the natural law traditon, i.e. man's natural sociability. Grotius makes the natural sociability of man central to his theory of natural law. Man must live with his fellows and it is natural law which tells man how to do so peacefully and pleasurably. Again property is seen to be the foundation stone for the peaceful coexistance of men and women in society.

4. Radical Natural Law: the Levellers

However, by the 1640s natural law theories had undergone a profound and radical change. For the first time natural law ideas had been used to justify a radical and popular political movement in opposition to the established church and monarchy. The English Levellers, men like John Lilburne, William Walwyn and Richard Overton, took traditional natural rights theory and used it to criticise the status quo. They objected to censorship, the state supported religion which discriminated against Dissenters, the political privileges of the landed aristocracy, and the irresponsible manner in which the king used his absolute powers. The Levellers introduced a radical dimension to the natural law tradition with their idea of self-ownership and consent as the basis of all political authority.

To give you a flavour of how the Levellers justified property according to the principles of natural law here is a section of pamphlet written by Richard Overton, from prison, in 1646:

AN ARROW AGAINST ALL TYRANTS and Tyranny, shot from the Prison of Newgate into the prerogative Bowels of the Arbitrary House of Lords, and all other Usurpers and Tyrants whatsoever.
To every individual in nature, is given an individual property by nature, not to be invaded or usurped by any: for every one as he is himself, so he hath a self propriety, else could not be himself, and on this no second may presume to deprive any of, without manifest violation and affront to the very principles of nature, and of the rules of equity and justice between man and man; mine and thine cannot be, except this be: no man hath power over my rights and liberties, and I over no man's; I may be but an individual, enjoy myself and my self propriety, and may write myself no more than myself, or presume any further; if I do, I am an encroacher and an invader upon another man's right, to which I have no right. For by natural birth, all men are equally and alike born to like propriety, liberty and freedom...

Quote from The Levellers in the English Revolution, ed. G.E. Aylmer (1975), pp. 68-9.

5. John Locke

40 years later John Locke continued the radical tradition in his justly famous defense of liberal freedoms in The Second Treatise of Civil Government. But whereas Grotius argued that man was sociable and required natural law to preserve social order, Locke used the fictional "state of nature" which supposedly existed before men entered into social arrangements with each other. Although they were completely free in the state of nature men gave up some of their natural rights in order to create a government. In particular they gave up their right to defend themselves against aggression, handing over all police and military rights to the state.

6. Influence of Locke and Natural Law in 18th Century

Locke's ideas had considerable influence in the 18th C, especially in America where natural law theory profoundly influenced the formation of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and numerous state constitutions. Natural law was used as an independent yardstick to judge the justice of acts of Parliament. This idea of an independent, rationally determined higher authority is an important aspect of 18th C natural law.

7. Adam Smith

AS's idea of property was enormously influential in 19th C. Wealth of Nations (1776) translated into most European languages and became standard economics text until replaced by JS Mill's Principles of Political Economy (1848). Cotinued idea that property in one's own labour is the foundation of all other property. Quote from WN (Liberty Classics), vol. 1, p. 138 concerning oppressive regulation of apprenticeships.

The property which every man has in his own labour, as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable. The patrimony of a poor man lies in the strength and dexterity of his hands; and to hinder him from employing this strength and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper without injury to his neighbour, is a plain violation of this most sacred property.

Government is necessary in order to protect property, not to create it. Protection is needed from 2 different sources of possible injury. From the "avarice and ambition of the rich" and "in the poor the hatred of labour and the love of present ease and enjoyment." P. 709.

8. Natural Rights Theories of Property in France

Natural law theories were not restricted to Anglo-American political thought. In the 18th C natural law was part of both the political tradition based upon Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the economic theories of the Physiocrats. Natural law was enshrined politically in the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen" of August 1789 and the "Declaration of the Rights and Duties of the Man and the Citizen" of 179? Both these declarations were savagely criticised by Bentham because of their evocation of natural rights. The 1789 Declaration stated that:

The representatives of the French people, constituted as a National Assemble, considering that ignorance, neglect or contempt for the rights of man are the sole cause of public misfortunes and the corruption of governments, have resolved to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable and sacred rights of man in order that this declaration, constantly before all members of the social body, may ever remind them of their rights and duties; in order that the acts of the legislative power and those of the executive power can be compared at every moment with the aims of all political institutions and be the more respected; and in order that the demands of citizens, based henceforth on simple and incontestable principles, shall always be directed towards the maintenance of the constitution and the happiness of all.
Accordingly, the National Assembly recognizes and declares, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and the citizen:
Article I. Men are born equal and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions can only be based on common utility.
II. The aim of every political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression...
IV. Liberty consists in being able to do everything which does not harm others. Thus the exercise of the natural rights of every man has no other limits than those which assure to other members of society the enjoyment of those same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.

Quote in Western Liberalism, ed. Bramsted and Melhuish, pp. 227-8.

Thus we can see that the French "Declaration of the Rights of Man" is solidly within the natural law tradition with its insistence that there are certain principles independent of the state which any reasonable person can use to judge the actions of the state, that these principles are universal, that government depends on the consent of the governed, and that the purpose of government is to protect the rights of individuals, especially the right to property and individual liberty.

D. The Origins of Utilitarianism

By the early 19th C the natural law tradition had suffered a severe setback in Britain and the continent, if not in the USA. The excesses of the French Revolution and the failure of the Napoleonic Empire discredited all the principles of 1789 and this included the natural law defense of liberalism. In Britain the most severe critics were the conservative Edmund Burke and Jeremy Bentham and the school of utilitarianism, the most important 19thC representatives of which were James Mill and his son John Stuart Mill.

1. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)

a. Biography

Jeremy Bentham British philosopher and reformer; son of prosperous London attorney; JB was a child prodigy in languages and history; trained for law; discovered that common law needed reforming; influence of continental Enlightenment; attempted life-long program of rationally revising English law; under Lord Shelburne's patronage JB moved in parliamentary and legal reform circles from 1780 to 1820; most famous work Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789); was a prolific writer on constitutional and prison reform who founded the school of political philosophy known as utilitarianism.

Although he wrote most of his most important works in the 18th century they were little known in his own time outside of a small group of admirers. He did not get a wider audience until his works were republished in the 19th C or his disciples like James and John Stuart Mill took up his ideas in their own works. Bentham's influence on 19th C British liberalism is profound not least because he shifted the traditional defense of liberal principles from a basis in natural law to one of utility.

Bentham first put forward his ideas in An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation published in 1789, so just before the French Revolution. B believed that man is governed by 2 forces, pain and pleasure, and that all moral questions of what one should or should not do can be answered by reference to pain and pleasure.

Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne.

Quote from An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, ed. H.L.A. Hart, p. 11.

This B called this the principle of utility, which he later prefered to call the greatest happiness or greatest felicity principle, by which he meant:

that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing in other words, to promote or to oppose that happiness. I say of every action whatsoever; and therefore not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government.(p. 12)

Happiness replaces other ends such as duty, justice, development of individual potential as the true end of human life. Yardstick to judge government actions is consequence of those actions, i.e. happiness of citizens. Not justice of those actions.

According to B it is the function of the state to use the fact of the individual's pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain to create a social and political system which will maximise in some way the total amount of utility or happiness.

Pleasures then, and the avoidance of pains, are the ends which the legislator has in view: it behoves him therefore to understand their value. Pleasures and pains are the instruments he has to work with: it behoves him therefore to understand their force, which is again, in another point of view, their value.(p.38)

As Thomas Hodgskin later argued, this view suits reformers within the state, especially legal reformers.

B created a very complex and confusing system of categories of pleasures and pains, rewards and punishments, in order to scientifically create a legal code which would allow the principle of utility to function. I will let you pursue the complexities of the Benthamite program at your own leisure.

b. Bentham's Critique of Natural Rights, especially property rights

B referred to the natural law traditon in passing in An Introduction but he reserved his detailed criticism for a pamphlet called "Anarchical Fallacies: being an Examination of the Declarations of Rights issued during the French Revolution" (1796). B is one of the greatest political polemicists of all time. This tract contains examples which have become famous. E.g "words that speak daggers" p. 500. "Natural rights is simple nonesense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonesense, - nonesense upon stilts..." p. 501.

HANDOUT - extracts of "Anarchical Fallacies".

This pamphlet consisted of 3 parts: "An Examination of the Declaration of the Rights of the Man and the Citizen decreed by the Constituent Assemble in France"; "Declaration of the Rights and Duties of the Man and the Citizen, Anno 1795"; and "Observations on Parts of the Declaration of Rights, as proposed by Citizen Sieyes."

B's critique of natural law can be summarised into the following points:

  • disagreement over nature and origin of law
  • Law creates Property Rights
  • rejects idea of self-ownership
  • opposed idea of equality of rights

i. Disagreement over Nature and Origin of Law and Government

B rejects idea that rights can exist anterior to or before government. Argument that governments create rights and not that governments created in order to protect preexisiting rights. Rejects opposition of natural and legal rights, what B calls "anti-legal rights" (522). Attacks "The natural, pre-adamitical, ante-legal and anti-legal rights of man" (524). Government creates rights, especially contracts, and hence security.

Q p. 500.

We know what it is for men to live without government - and living without government, to live without rights: we know what it is for men to live without government, for we see instances of such a way of life - we see it in many savage nations, or rather races of mankind; for instance, among the savages of New South Wales, whose way of living is so well known to us: no habit of obedience, and thence no government, and thence no laws - no laws, and thence no such things as rights - no security - no property: - liberty, as against regular control, the control of laws and government - perfect; but as against all irregular control, the mandates of stronger individuals, none.

B rejects idea of state of nature prior to existence of government. No historical evidence. P. 498 "What is the state of things.."

Fundamental dispute over how the law should be changed. Should law be written according to principles (as in the American and French Revolutions) or existing laws merely codified or reformed. B rejected idea that principles can be formulated before the details of the law have been worked out. B preferred to study law as it existed, to codify it, rationalise it. Generalisations would be worked out from study of details. B spent much of his life trying to persuade despotic rulers to let him codify their legal system for him. Naturally they refused. This criticism went to the heart of the matter. Natural law supporters argued that principles could and should guide law making.

Quote from p. 493.

I say no: it is only in proportion as we have formed and compared with one another the laws of detail that our fundamental laws will be exact and fit for service. Is a general proposition true? It is because all the particular propositions that are included under it are true. How, then, are we to satisfy ourselves of the truth of the general ones? By having under our eyes all the included particular ones. What, then, is the order of investigation by which true general propositions are formed? We take a number of less extensive - of particular propositions; find some points in which they agree, and from the observation of these points form a more extensive one, a general one, in which they are all included. In this way, we proceed upon sure grounds: in the opposite way, we proceed at random, and danger attends at every step.

B distinguished between the "censor" who, like B, would codify the law and the anarchist who would overthrow it and replace it with a new system.

Quote p. 498.

For such is the difference - the great and perpetual difference, betwixt the good subject, the rational censor of the laws, and the anarchist - between the moderate man and the man of violence. The rational censor, acknowledging the existence of the law he disapproves, proposes the repeal of it: the anarchist, setting up his will and fancy for a law before which all mankind are called upon to bow down at the first word - the anarchist, trampling on truth and decency, denies the validity of the law in question, - denies the existence of it in the character of a law, and calls upon all mankind to rise up in a mass, and resist the execution of it.

ii. Law Creates Right to Property

Since the law creates rights there can be no such thing as a natural right to property. Property is an expectation that one can use an object without interference. This expectation is established by law. Quote from Theory of Legislation, pp. 111-12 from "Principles of the Civil Code".

We shall see that there is no such thing as natural property, and that it is entirely the work of law.
... The idea of property consists in an established expectation; in the persuasion of being able to draw such or such an advantage from the thing possessed, according to the nature of the case. Now this expectation, this persuasion, can only be the work of law. I cannot count upon the enjoyment of that which I regard as mine, except through the promise of the law which guanrantees it to me. It is law alone which permits me to forget my natural weakness. It is only through the protection of law that I am able to inclose a field, and to give myself up to its cultivation with the sure though distant hope of harvest.
... Property and law are born together, and die together. before laws were made there was no property; take away laws, and property ceases.

(Continues to acknowledge right of savage to kill deer. Compare Hodgskin's attack over idea of "expectation" being creation of law or part of nature)

iii. Rejects Idea of Self-Ownership

B rejects idea of self-ownership which is key to radical natural law approach of Levellers, Locke and Spencer.

Q p. 531.

More nonesense - more mischievous nonesense, - tendencies of the most mischievous kind, wrapped up under the cover of a silly epigram: as if a man were one thing, the person of the same man another thing; as if a man kept his person, when he happened to have one, as he does his watch, in one of his pockets.

B presumed idea of self-ownership used to attack slavery but B believed slavery has always been limited by law and that abolition was unjust towards existing owners. As was abolition of other legal privileges. B also attacked idea because it threatened power over wife, children and servants.

Q p. 531.

In what manner is the legal relation of the husband to the wife constituted, but by giving a right for a certain time, to the use of certain faculties of her's - by giving him, in so far, a property in her person? - and so with respect to the legal relations of the father to the child under age, and of the master to the apprentice or other servant, whatever be the nature of ther service.

iv. Opposed idea of the equality of rights

Rejects the idea of equality of rights. Expresses dismay that if true this would mean the end of the traditional system of defference and obedience between worker and employer, wife and husband, child and father. Compares making laws to science of chemistry which "the untaught and unlettered multitude" p. 521-22 should not be allowed to take part in.

Quote p. 506 concerning law that individuals may do what is not expressly prohibited by law.

The effect of this law, for want of the requisite exceptions or explanations, is to anihilate, for the time being and for ever, all powers of command: all power, the exercise of which consists in the issuing and inforcing obedience to particular and occasional commands; domestic power, power of the police, judicial power, military power, power of superior officers, in the line of civil administration, over their subordinates. If I say to my son, Do not mount that horse, which you are not strong enough to manage; if I say to my daughter, Do not go to that pond, where there are young men bathing; they may set me at defiance, bidding me show them where there are anything about mounting unruly horses, or going where there are young men bathing, in the laws. By the same clause, they may each of them justify themselves in turning their backs upon the lesson I have given them; while my apprentice refuses to do the work I have given him; and my wife, instead of providing the meals I had desired her to provide for ourselves and family, tells me she thinks fit to go and dine elsewhere.

2. The Utilitarianism of James and John Stuart Mill

JB's ideas are important, especially his attack on natural law and natural rights because of B's influence on 19th C utilitarianism. Two of the most important utilitarians of the 19th C were James and John Stuart Mill.

a. James Mill

Series of articles by JM in a Supplement to the 5th edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica which appeared 1815-182? The most important article was "Essay on Government" which appeared in 1820 and republished many times. The Essay laid out the utilitarian plan for reforming the British political system. Main idea was that aristocratic control of the government inevitably leads to corruption and misuse of power. Only way to prevent this from occuring was to have popular representation and annual elections. JM's confident conclusion was that "the greatest possible happiness of society is, therefore, attained by ensuring to every man the greatest possible quantity of the produce of his labour". Lively p. 57.

b. John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill, until his crisis of 1826, accepted his father's version of JB's utilitarian philosophy. Including idea that happiness (in order to be maximised by a wise bureaucrat or politician) can be quantified in what they called the "felicific calculus" to give a numerical quantity to each of the many pleasures and pains which are felt and to use the calculus to add up an individual's or a society's total happiness. The goodness or badness of laws and social practices could thus be evaluated by how much they increased or decreased total happiness.

JSM's new version of utilitarianism was put forward in the essay "Utilitarianism" (1863). This marked a break with the doctrinaire "act" utilitarianism of B and his father in which every individual act is judged according to the way it either increases or decreases the happiness of the greates number. JSM developed the idea of "moral rights" based upon a notion of indirect utilitarianism: that the utility of individual acts is less important than the utility of certain principles of behaviour which enable individuals and society to maximise their happiness over the long-term. These moral rights are similar to the natural rights denounced by B but with the important distinction that they are not based upon any antecedent rights but upon utility. E.G an individual should be allowed to own property not because they have a natural right to it but because owning property is useful to society in that it encourages production and saving. But whereas a natural rights supporter would not permit occasional violations of property rights, the utilitarian would if society's utility could be increased by doing so.

There is an important chapter in Utilitarianism "On the Connection between Justice and Utility" where JSM clearly distinguishes between the concept of "justice" (held by natural law theorists) and "utility" and argues against Herbert Spencer, the best known contemporary advocate of a natural law theory of justice. Basically JSM rejects the idea that a sentiment of justice, no matter how universal, is no guide to right conduct. Rather it is "the animal desire to repel or retaliate a hurt or damage to oneself, or to those with whom one sympathises" p.308.

Next lecture discuss 19thC defenders of property who continued to use natural rights rather than utilitarianism: Thomas Hodgskin, Herbert Spencer, Frédéric Bastiat.



VI. PROPERTY II: Natural Rights Defences of Property in the 19thC - Hodgskin, Spencer

A. Summary

Examine two 19thC liberals who continued natural rights tradition of defending property - Thomas Hodgskin and Herbert Spencer.

B. Thomas Hodgskin (1787-1869)

1. Biography

Thomas Hodgskin often thought of as an early socialist but in reality he is a radical liberal with working class sympathies. Made a naval cadet during Napoleonic wars. Read Locke, Smith, Godwin whilst officer. Reacted against harsh naval discipline. Led calls for reforms. Forced to retired at 2? "I complained of the injury done me by a commander-in-chief to himself in the language I thought it merited."

Journalist and social theorist, edited Mechanics Magazine and helped found with Francis Place the London Mechanics Institute in 1823 where he delivered lectures on political economy and laissez-faire economic propaganda to working class audiences. Later published as Popular Political Economy (1827). Pioneer in adult education movement. radical individualist, almost anarchist in tradition of Gustave de Molinari and Herbert Spencer. "Nightwatchman" theory of the state. Believed in natural law, harmony of free market but called a socialist because he believed worker was entitled to whole product of his labour (as did James Mill - but he never called a socialist). Wrote for the Economist 1846-5? Active in movement to repeal Combination Acts (1824).

Works: An Essay on Naval Discipline showing Part of its Evil Effects on the Minds of the Officers and the Minds of the Men and on the Community, with an Amended System by which Pressing may be immediately Abolished (1813); Labour Defended Against the Claims of Capital (1825); Travels in the North of Germany (1820) 2 vols. (Severe criticism of government oppression in Germany); Popular Political Economy (1827); The Natural and Artifical Right of Property Contrasted (1832).

2. TH's Natural Rights Defense of Liberty and Property

The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted (1832) series of letters, by "a labourer," to Henry Brougham (1778-1868), MP and Lord Chancellor in Lord Grey's administration, attacking Brougham's Benthamite reform legislation which aimed to simplify and reduce the cost of administration of justice. HB is famous for his involvement in the anti-slavery campaigns from 1807 onwards and educational reform. Helped found in 1827 Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge which aimed to educated the literate members of the artisan class. One of the founders of the University of London.

In The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted (1832) TH proved what B had feared in his "Anarchical Fallacies" by using natural law to defend property and individual liberty in such a way as to challenge the very existence of the state. Q p. i-ii.

By a deduction from principles not here enunciated, the author has satisfied himself that all lawmaking, except gradually and quietly to repeal all existing laws, is arrant humbug... he hopes by demonstrating that property is not regulated and determined by human laws... that society can exist and prosper without the lawmaker, and consequently without the taxgatherer.

TH based his idea of property and natural rights on the work of John Locke so it is not surprising that he opposed the ideas of B and James Mill. TH thought that the question of property was of prime importance because the manner in which property was distributed determines how the political structure is organised. When TH wrote NARPC in 1832 shortly after Europe had undergone one of its periodic revolutionary convulsions. Because of the tensions exposed by the 1830 revolutions in France and elsewhere the conflict between various social and economic classes had become more obvious. TH identified the conflict between peasants and nobles; capitalist against worker, and subjects against rulers. Hence the importance of the origin of property rights. If all rights were the creation of the state then the oppressed groups of Europe had no grounds for rebellion. But if natural rights existed and if, as TH was convinced was true, governments everywhere had violated those rights, then the revolts were just and necessary. TH argued against JB and utilitarians that only government created rights to property. Furthermore, that the utilitarian philosophy was a class-based one, that it suited too well the needs of the state in its battle to maintain economic and political privilege. Suited the needs of "the Philosophers of Westminster" i.e. the Bentahmite reformers. Q p. 19-2? A.

I shall confine myself to briefly proving, by some of the deductions from Mr. Bentham's favourite dogma, that no principle, ever embraced by a thinking man, was, than this, more montrously absurd...
Messrs. Bentham and Mill, both being eager to exercise the power of legislation, represent (government) as a beneficent deity which curbs our naturally evil passions and desires...
But now, in compliment to poltical power, and to Mr. Bentham's theory... we must believe that men had naturally no right to pick up cockles on the beach or gather berries from the hedge - no right to cultivate the earth, to invent and make comfortable clothing, to use instruments to provide more easily for their enjoyments - no right to improve and adorn their habitations - nay, no right to have habitations - no right to buy or sell, or move from place to place - till the benevolent and wise law-giver conferred all these rights on them...
Such deductions would be shocking, if they were not eminently absurd... they are the legitimate results of a system dominated, from the seat and centre of civilzation, the Philosophy of Westminster...
The doctrines accord too well with the practice of law-givers, they cut too securely all the gordian knots of legislation, not to be readily adopted by those who, however discontented they may be with a distribution of power, in which no share falls to them, are anxious to become the tutelary guardians of the happiness of mankind. They lift legislation beyond our reach, and secure it from censure. Man, having naturally no rights, may be experimented on, imprisoned, expatriated or even exterminated, as the legislator pleases.

Compare TH's idea of independent yardstick with which to judge status quo with utilitarian argument that there is no independent yardstick, only idea of happiness as a result of internal reform of system.

3. Idea of Property as Expectiation

Remind you of quote in last lecture by JB from Theory of Legislation concerning property rights as an expectation of use guaranteed by the law. TH's response that law and property rights gradually emerge out of men mutually agreeing to recognise each other's right to property they have peacefully acquired. The expectation of enjoyment comes not from something created by the state but laws which evolve from activity in the "natural" state. Quote p. 119.

Have not men, in the primitive state, a natural expectation of enjoying certain things, - an expectation drawn from sources anterior to law?
Yes. There have been from the beginning, and there always will be, circumstances in which a man may secure himself, by his own means, in the enjoyment of certain things. But the catalogue of these cases is very limited. The savage who has killed a deer may hope to keep it for himself, so long as his cave is undiscovered; so long as he watches to defend it , and is stronger than his rivals; but that is all. How miserable and precarious is such a possession! If we suppose the least agreement among savages to respect the acquisistions of each other, we see the introduction of a principle to which no name can be given but that of law. A feeble and momentary expectation may result from time to time from circumstances purely physical; but a strong and permanent expectation can result only from law. That which, in the natural state, was almost an invisible thread, in the social state becomes a cable.

Not surprisingly TH rejects B's idea of expectation of enjoyment of property created by law. Believes expectation is an innate idea; related to concept of production - no production would be undertaken without expectation of enjoyment; lack of expectation of enjoyment more often the not because of government action. See NARPC, p. 33.

4. TH's Theory of Property: The Distinction between Natural and Artificial Right to Property

TH distinguished between artificial right to property - i.e. Bentham's idea that property rights are created by the state of society, and the natural right of property - right of first occupation or mixing one's labour (Locke's idea) which existed prior to and independently of state.

TH defines what he means by the idea of "the natural right of property" in "Letter the Second" of NARPC in whic he takes a strongly Lockean view of property rights and an equally strong anti-Benthamite position. Calls JB's utilitarian theories of property "impious." TH declared that:

...I look on a right of property - on the right of individuals, to have and to own, for their own separate and selfish use and enjoyment, the produce of their own iindustry, with power o freely to dispose of the whole of that in the manner most agreeable to themselves, as essential to the welfare and even to the continued existence of society. If, therefore, I did not suppose, with Mr. Locke, that nature establishes such a right - if I were not prepared to shew that she nor merely establishes, but also protects and preserves it, so far as to never it to be violated with impunity - I should at once take refuge in Mr. Bentham's impious theory, and admit that the legislator who established and preserved a right of property, deserved little less adoration than the Divinity himself. Believing, however, that nature establishes such a right, I can neither join those who vituperate it as the source of all our social misery (such as Beccaria, Rousseau, Owen, the Saint-Simonians and the Moravians), nor those who claim for the legislator the sole honour of being "the author of the finest triumph of humanity over itself." (NARPC, pp. 24-25).

TH agrees with JL that every indivual has the right to "self-propriety" (i.e. ownership of their own body) and the products of their body's labour. Also right to "first use" of fruits of hunt or land. The first to clear, cultivate and harvest land is rightful owner of that land. Concludes taht he cannot put it better than JL expressed it in Second Treatise of Civil Government::

Thus the principle Mr. Locke lays down is, that nature gives to each individual his body and his labour; and what he can make or obtain by his labour naturally belongs to him. Though I cannot make this principle any clearer by repeating the statement in my own way, yet as different minds are affected by different means, the object I have in view may, perhaps, be promoted, by putting it in a somewhat different, even if it not be so clear a form. The power to labour is the gift of nature to each individual; and the power which belongs to each, cannot be confounded with that which belongs to another: The natural wants of man, particularly of food and clothing, are the natural stimulus to exert this power; and the means of gratifying them, which it provides, is thenatural reward of the exertion. The power to labour and the natural wants which stimulate labour, are generally found together: thus we see that the motive to labour - the power to labour - and the produce of labour - all exist exclusive of all legislation. (ANRPC, pp. 26-7).

TH denies that law is necessary to define ownership. Idea of innate idea of individuality and property. Compare similar idea in Leveller manifesto about "self-propriety." Quote from Halevy, p. 118.

As nature gives to labour whatever it produces - as we extend the idea of personal individuality to what is produced by every individual - not merely is the right of property established by nature, we see also that she takes means to make known the existence of that right. It is as impossible for men not to have a notion of a right of property, as it is for them to want the idea of personal identity. When either is totally absent man is insane.

Agrees with JL that very defintition of what it means to be a person tied up with property ownership. Property in oneself integral part of what it means to be an individual. As we learn what defines our own personality we extend this to others. Idea of property as an extension of the idea of personality.

Mr. Locke says, that every man has a property in his own person: in fact, individuality - which is signified by the word own - cannot be disjoined from the person. Each individual learns his own shape and form, and even the existence of his limbs and body, from seeing and feeling them. These constitute his notion of personal identity, both for himself and others: and it is impossible to conceive - it is in fact a contradiction to say - that a man's limbs and body do not belong to himself: for the words him, self, and his body signify the same material thing.
As we learn the existence of our own bodies from seeing and feeling them, and we see and feel the bodies of others, we have precisely similar grounds for believing in the individuality or identity of other persons,as for believing in our own identity. The ideas of mine and thine, as applied to the produce of labour, are simply the an extended form of the ideas of personal identity and individuality. We readily spread them from our hands and other limbs, to the things the hands seize, or fashion, or create, or the legs hunt down and overtake....
By the operatiuons olf nature, then, it being, indeed, the necessary consequence of existence, there arises in every individual, unwilled by any lawgiver, a distinct notion of his own individuality and of the individualty of others. By the same operations, we extend tis idea, first for oursleves and afterwrds for others, to the things wse make or create, or have given to us, including the pleasure and pain resulting from our own conduct. Thus, the natural idea of property is a mere extension of that of individuality; and it embraces all the mental as well as all the physical consequences of muscular exertion. (ANRPC, pp. 28-9).

Recall quote from J Bentham about Aborigines of New South Wales. JB argued that since they lacked a government they must lack laws and hence any notion of property. TH rejects this idea with argument that aborigines had a notion of property and attemopted to defend their property from invaders such as Governor Philip.

If this view be correct (i.e. the natural rights view), a right of property ought to be known and established among all mankind: and it may, I believe, be affirmed that no people, howerver rude, have yet been discovered, or ever were known, among whom a right of property, in the things they made by their industry, was not established. Major Collins (Collins St in Vic named after him?) says, in his work on New South Wales, a country in which there is the nearest approach to the absence of a right of property I have ever read of, "that the savages left their spears and things of that kind lying about, but they had a strong notion of ownership, and resisted the appropriation of these things by the people of Captain Phillip's vessell." They comprehended the right of property which springs from labour; but agriculture not being known amongst them, and they not having vested any labour in the soil, they had not established a right of property in land. (ANRPC, pp. 36-7).

TH contrasted this "natural" view of property with what he called the "artificial" view, viz. that property created by decree of goverment or by legislation. Discusses this altrantive theory of property in "Letter the Third" in ANRPC.

TH argues that the use of the law to define property is an effort to make legal what was acquired immorally, by force or conquest. Especially true of land ownership as it has developed in feudal Europe. Far from governments arising to protect and guarantee property their origin was in usurpation and conquest. Aim was to use artifical law to protect their usurpation of natural right to property of those disposessed. Quote NARPC, p. 74.

And this law, founded on oppression, upheld by force and fraud, intended solely to preserve ill-gotten power, or ill-gotten wealth, to maintain the dominion of an aritocracy, and the supremacy of a priesthood, to perpetuate the slavery, ignorance and povery of the great body of the people...
The great and important fact, which is necessary to promulgate far and wide then is, that all legislation was originally founded on oppression. But the oppressors and their descendents have never ceased to be in possession of the power of legislation.

TH contrasts idea of property which is result of labour with property created by government drecree/legilsation. Radical view that purpose of government is to appropriate natural property and redistribute it to others who have not laboured to produce it. Creates a class system of those who have been granted property by legislation against those who prioduce propety byb own labour.

The important and perhaps trite fact to which I wish by these remarks to direct your attention is, that law and governments are intended, and always have been intended, to establish and protect a right of property, differnt from that which, in common with Mr. Locke, I say ids ordained by nature. The right of property created and protected by the law, is the artificial or legal right of property, as contr-distinguished from the natural right of property. It may be the theory that government ought to protect the natural right; in practice, government seems to exist only to violate it. Never has the law employed any means whatsoever to protect the property nature bestows on individuals; on the contrary, it is a great system of means devised to appropriate in a peculiar and unjust manner the gifts of nature. It exacts a revenue for the government, - it compels the payment of rent, - it enforces the giving of tithes, but it does not ensure to labour its produce and its rewards. (ANRPC, pp. 55-56).

TH came to conclusion that the source of most evils in world were the result of governmetrs protecting artificial rights of property and violating natural rights of property.

Laws and constitutions - political organisation altogether, being founded on a violation of the natural right of property, is the source of most, if not all the evils, moral and physical, which yet afflict our race; but which, I verily believe, we are speedily destined to get rid rid of, substituting the government of God for the rule of ignorant perverse men. (ANRPC, p. 57Z).

TH's solution:

  • Put an end to legislation which defendes articial property rights. No place for liberal, especially Benthamite reformers.
  • Recognise natural right to property, especially the common people who have been dispossessed by aristocracy and monopoly.
  • Overturn property founded on artificial legislation. Redistribution.

C. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)

1. Biography

H Spencer shared these views with TH but expressed himself in less passioned and colourful language. HS is a much underrated political philosopher who was perhaps the most radical liberal in the English speaking world. He was a sub-editor of The Economist and wrote an enormous amount in his long life. He is best known for Social Statics (1851), his dire warnings of the advent of socialism and increasing state power in The Man Versus the State (1884), and his monumental works on sociology.

HS opposed the utilitarianismn of B and JSM in 2 important works: in the many editions of Social Statics first published in 1851 and in The Principles of Ethics published in 189? The argument is involved and complicated but I recommend that you spend some time trying to understand it.

HS believed that all individuals in all societies have a "moral sense." Most have never systematised the moral sense into a philosophy but it exists. Likewise all societies have some concept of number even though some of them never developed a theory of arithmetic or higher mathematics. To B's charge that the moral sense is subjective and "founded solely upon internal and peculiar feelings" HS replies that the same criticism applies to the idea of "utility". In fact, B's theory is doubly at risk since not only is the idea of "greatest happiness" as an end subjective and unmeasurable but also the means one could achieve it. HS described it as "the infinite disagreement as to the means of realising this 'greatest happiness'" SS p. 27.

HS distinguishes between happiness as a "creative purpose" of life in general and happiness as the "immediate aim of man" SS p. 6? The utilitarians confuse the two forms of happiness. Happiness is a particular kind of life. The task of the philosopher is to determine what are the essential conditions which make life itself possible (e.g. peace, cooperation, property, individual liberty) so that we can then begin pursuing the happy life. Indirect utilitarians, like the later JSM, are aware of this distinction. Q SS p. 61-2.

... that it is for us to ascertain the CONDITIONS by conforming to which this greatest happiness may be attained. Not to put trust in guesses; not to find out what really IS the line of conduct that leads to the desired end. For unquestionably there must be in the nature of things some definite and fixed prerequisites to success. Man is a visible, tangible entity, having properties. In the circumstances that surround him there are certain unchanging necessities. Life is dependent upon the fulfillment of specific functions, and happiness is a particular kind of life. Surely, then, if we would know how, in the midst of these appointed circumstances, the being Man must live so as to achieve the result - greatest happiness - we ought first to determine what the essential conditions are. If we solve the problem, it can only be by consulting these and submitting ourselves to them.

HS thought that the complicated calculations which would be involved in working out the "greatest happiness" were impossible to do for 2 reasons: firstly, that happiness is a subjective feeling which cannot be compared between individuals. Secondly, that the principle of liberty permits an individual to do things which are injurious to themselves and that the pain imposed is in fact beneficial. It is beneficial because it teaches the idea of cause and effect, which is vital to the development of individual responsability. A paternalistic utiltiarianism, much like the welfare state we have today, prevents this from occuring. Q SS p. 74.

Even were it possible to say of each private action whether the resulting gratification did or did not preponderate over the resulting suffering, there would still present itself this second difficulty, that we cannot with certainty distinguish suffering that is detrimental from suffering that is beneficial..., as needful to the development of the ultimate man.

HS thought the essential conditions which make individual and social life possible were following. HS began with the observation that social life brought about by cooperation had certain advantages. In order to enjoy these advantages individuals had to conform to certain requirements which this association demanded, viz: Q SS p.62.

In this social state, the sphere of activity of each individual being limited by the spheres of activity of other individuals, it follows that the men who are to realize this greatest sum of happiness must be men of whom each can obtain complete happiness within his own sphere of activity without diminishing the spheres of activity required for the acquisistion of happiness by others. For manifestly, if each or any of them cannot receive complete happiness without lessening the spheres of activity of one or more of the rest, he must either himself come short of complete happiness or must make one or more do so; and hence, under such circumstances, the sum total of happiness cannot be as great as is conceivable, or cannot be greatest happiness. Here, then, is the first of those fixed conditions to the obtainment of greatest happiness necessitated by the social state. It is the fulfillment of this condition which we express by the word JUSTICE.

It was not HS's aim to determine what was moral for individuals to do in all circumstances. He left the area of private morality out of consideration. The point of his book was to determine the features of public or social morality, to develop his theory of justice: Q SS p. 66.

... into a system of equity; to mark out out those limits put to each man's proper sphere of activity by the like spheres of other men; to delineate the relationships that are necessitated by a recognition of those limits; or in other words, to develop the principles of social statics.

The first principle of HS's social statics is the law of equal liberty, "every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man" SS p. 9? Certain corollaries follow from this first principle: Q SS p. 102.

If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, it is manifest that he has a claim to his life, for without it he can do nothing that he has willed; and to his personal liberty, for the withdrawal of it partially, if not wholly, restrains him from the fulfillment of his will. it is just as clear, too, that each man is forbidden to deprive his fellow of life or liberty, inasmuch as he cannot do this without breaking the law, which, in assertiing his freedom, declares that he shall not infringe "the equal freedom of any other." For he who is killed or enslaved is obviously no longer equally free with his killer or enslaver.

HS based all rights to liberty and property upon this first principle and its corollaries. Hence unowned things can be used and owned by an individual as long as he or she permits others to do likewise and does not interfere with the enjoyment of their possessions. This process is relatively straight forward when most land and property is unowned but even in a complex industrial society, far removed from the first attempts to own unowned property, property is just so long as the original title to it was just. Once something is owned justly it can be traded, bought and sold an infinfite number of times without infringing anyone's rights. The problems of course come when the original title to property is examined, as HS did with land ownership. Q SS p. 104.

Passing from the consideration of the possible to the actual, we find yet further reason to deny the rectitude of property in land. It can never be pretended that the existing titles to such property are legitimate. Should anyone think so, let him look at the chronicles. Violence, fraud, the prerogative of force, the claims of superior cunning - these are the sources to which those titles may be traced. The original deeds were written with the sword rather than with the pen: not lawyers, but soldiers, were the conveyancers; blows were the current coin given in payment; and for seals, blood was used in preference to wax.

This was a radical view, not shared by all liberals, but one which had some currency amongst the more hard-core.

Idea of "Lockean Proviso" in land ownership: that one could only have legitimate claim to ownership of land so long as one left "as good and enough in common for others" (quoted by HS p. 114). Unless individual can prove that labour has given right greater that "pre-existing right" of others to land, then claim is not legitimate. Not so certain as TH that labour bestows unequivocal right to property.

It may be quite true that the labour a man expends in catching or gathering gives him a better right to the thing caught or gathered than any other man; but the question at issue is whether by labour so expended he has made his right to the thing caught or gathered greater than the pre-existing rights of all other men put together. And unless he can prove that he has done this, his title to possession cannot be admitted as a matter of right, but can only be conceded on the ground of convenience. (Schalkenbach edition, p. 115).

HS view of aboriginal land rights. White settlers could not prove unambiguous legitimate title to land in Australia. Tuis would acknowledge claim of Aborignes to land rights.

Even though ownership of land is sometimes difficult to determine because of aggressions of past history, no difficulties with property created by labour and inginuity of human mind. Property rights in these areas logical result of "law of equal liberty."

For when we assert the entire liberty of each, bounded only by the like liberty of all, we assert that each is free to do whatever his desires dictate, within the prescribed limits; that each is free, therefore, to claim for himself all those gratifications and sources of gratification attainable by him within those limits - all those gratifications and sources of gratification which he can precure without trespassing upon the spheres of actions of his neighbours. If, therefore, out of many starting with the like fields of activity, one obtains by his greater strength, greater ingenuity, or greater application more gratification and sources of gratification than the rest, and does this without in anyway entrenching upon the equal freedom of the rest, the moral law assigns him an exclusive right to all those extra gratifications and sources of gratification; nor can the rest take from him withoutr cliaming for themselves greater liberty of action than he claims, and thereby violating that law. Whence it follows that an equal apportionment of the fruits of the earth among all not consistent with pure justice. (ANRPC, pp. 118-9)....
Wherefore we find it to be a logical deduction from the law of equal freedom tha no man can rightfully take property from another against his will. (p. 122).

HS modified his theory of property slightly in the 1892 work Principles of Ethics. gave up his earlier idea that exclusive ownership of land violate law of equal liberty. prospect of government owning and controlling land use frightened him into a more liberal view of land ownership. See Chapter 12 "The Right of Property" in volume ? Concludes "law of equal liberty" now includes ownership of land.

That communism implies violation of justice as defined in foregoing chapters, is manifest. When we assert the liberty of each is bouded only by the like liberties of all, we assert that each is free to keep for himself all (my emphasis) those gratifications and sources of gratifications which he procures without trespassing on the spheres of actions of his neighbours. If, therefore, one obtains by his greater strength, greater ingenuity, or greater application, more gratifications or sources of gratification, than others, and does this without in any way trenching on the sphere of actions of others, the law of equal freedom assigns him exclusive possession of all such extra gratification and sources of gratification; nor can others take them from him without claiming for themselves greater liberty of action than he claims, and thereby violating the law.

D. Conclusion

TH friend and colleague of Herbert Spencer. Both supported natural rights theory of property. Interpretation gradually lost ground to utilitarian defense of property popularised by the Mills. Implications for direction of liberalism: accommodated more and more social and welfare legislation (implied intereference with individual property rights), transformation into "New Liberalism" later in 19th C. Diffuliculty in adequately responding to socialist challenge to property. Spencer's condemnation of New Liberalism and New Toryism and prediction of "creeping socialism" - overlegislation in The Man Versus the State (1884).




A. Summary

First Lecture:

  • Bastiat, harmony of the free market, natural order, competition, "disturbing factors"

Second Lecture:

  • Laissez-faire, definiition and advocates
  • Mill's reservations

B. Introduction

Over past few weeks looking at philosophical foundation of 19thC liberalism, individual liberty, utilitarianism, natural rights, property.

This week examine economic aspect of liberalism - free market, harmony and natural order, laissez-faire.

Next week examine aspects of political liberalism - constitutionalism, rule of law, free speech, electoral reform.

Following week general problem which links all these aspects into question of what should be the extent of the state's activities - debate about how limited should state be. Some liberals went so far in hostility to state to advocate abolition of the state - e.g. Gustave de Molinari, Thomas Hodgskin, Herbert Spencer.

End of part A dealing with theoretical foundations of 19thC liberalism.

C. Frédéric Bastiat's Theory of the "Harmony" of the Free Market

Reason for choosing FB is that he clearly states liberal case for the free market in language which is approachable by non experts in political economy. Less technical than say John Stuart Mill in Principles of Political Economy (1848). FB a populariser and journalist who wrote for wide audience. But his ideas shared by many 19thC liberals, in particular, liberal political economists.

1. Biography of Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850)

Son of merchant and banking family. FB entered family business and spent considerable time in Spain on family business.

At age 19 discovered JB Say's Traité d'économie politique also writings of Adam Smith, Quesnay, Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac, Benjamin Constant, Charles Dunoyer and Charles Comte, Traité de législation (1827).

Wrote articles in 1832 attacking high tariffs. Attempted to form lobby group representing wine producers hurt by taxes and tariffs. In 1842 discovered Richard Cobden and Anti-Corn Law League and decided to create French equivalent to lobby for free trade. FB became chief spokesman in France for free trade with articles in Journal des économistes and edited free trade newspaper Libre échange. Wrote a book on Cobden and the free trade movement in Britain, translated Cobden's parliamentary speeches.

Became populariser of free market and free trade ideas with books: Economic Sophisms (1845) and Economic Harmonies (1850). Elected to constituent assembly in 1848 - leading exponent for free trade and against socialism.

2. Bastiat's Idea of The Harmony of the Free Market

Good example of "optimistic" school of the political economists is FB's idea of "harmony" put forward in Economic Harmonies postumously published in 1850. Important chapters to look at are 1 "Natural and Artificial Order," 10 "Competition," and 18 "Disturbing Factors."

FB begins EH with question of whether or not one can observe a particular arrangement in society, an order of things which is the result of the nature of things and not the result of human planning and laws. FB believes he can observe such an order of things, an order which he calls a "prodigiously ingenious mechanism" (p.5) which is the result of "a natural and wise order that operates without our knowledge" (p.6). Also calls it "the final result of the providential plan" (p. 318).

Idea of order in economy is not new. Friedrich Hayek calls this order a "spontaneous order" and and applies concept to nature (e.g. structure of a crystal) as well as to societies (e.g. structure of languages, rules of grammar; economy a similar spontaneously evolved order). Hayek traces idea of spontaneous order applied to society back to Scottish Enlightenment, in particular work of Adam Ferguson's An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) who stated "Nations stumble upon establishments which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design." The aim of Ferguson and others of Scottish Enlightenment was to criticise the "myth of the legislator" - the idea that all social, political and legal systems owe their origin to a single far-seeing legislator (e.g. Solon in Athens in 6thC BC).

FB very much in this tradition of rejecting idea that all order must be understood as a deliberate arrangement created by someone. FB criticises socialism (emerging in 1840s when FB writing, opposed in 1848 revolution) for wanting to be "social planners" who would create "a contrived system" according to their models of how society should operate (p.8). FB particularly hostile to Rousseau and political tradition inspired by him.

Free market was for FB opposite of "contrived system" or order. Market was an evloved "natural and wise order that operates without our knowledge." Market contains a mechanism which has evolved gradually and which enables individuals to provide for their needs, encourages technological progress, disperses production among many producers (i.e. not monopolistic), not controlled by central planners. This mechanism to produce order in free market is "competition."

Opposite of free market harmony and order is chaos and injustice of economic planning. Fatal flaw in socialism and other deliberately planned societies, FB believed, is false ssumptions that:

  • society will be led and planned by infallible men who are not motivated by self-interest (p. 8?)
  • that the mass of the people will consent to have their lives planned according to the planners' wishes

FB asks how can social or economic planning be accomplished with fallible men?

And if man's tendancies are perverse, where will the social planners seek to place their fulcrum? According to their premises, it will have to be outside of humanity. Will they seek it within themselves, in their own intelligence, in their own hearts? But they are not yet gods: they too are men and hence, along with all humanity, careening down toward the fatal abyss. Will they call upon the state to intervene? But the state is composed of men; and we should have to prove that the men who form the state constitute a class apart, to whom the general laws of society are not applicable, since they are called upon to make the laws. Unless this be proved, the facing of the dilemma is not even postponed. (EH, p. 19).

FB argues that if individuals are not left free to judge what they will buy and sell, and at what price, then someone must do it for them. Thus if free market is abandoned for economic planning result will be one of the "most impossible of all despotisms." From extract.

Is it proposed in all serious (by the advocates of economic planning) to substitute for this eternal vigilance by the interested parties a social authority (even it it should be the reformer himself) charged with determining the intricate conditions affecting countless acts of exchange in all parts of the world? Is it not obvious that this would mean the establishment of the most fallible, the most far-reaching, the most arbitrary, the most inquisitorial, the most unbearable, the most short-sighted, and, fortunately, let us add, the most impossible of all despostisms ever conceived in the brain of an Oriental potentate?
We need only know that competition is merely the absence of any arbitrary authority set up as a judge over exchange, to realise that it cannot be eliminated... without eliminating man himself. (p. 286).

We can observe a clear contrast in FB's mind (and most other economic liberals) between the order and harmony of the free market and the conflict and injustice of economic planning. It seems to follow logically, that if one believes that when individuals are left free to engage in production and exchange a "natural" and harmonious "order" emerges, then one is necessarily opposed to all attempts to regulate, control, or plan the economy. On the other hand, if one believes that the free market produces chaos, exploitation and disorder then one normally concludes that the government should step in control, regulate and plan the lives of choatic individuals. Clear contrast here between liberalism and socialism. Will treat this conflict in more detail in Topic Eleven "Liberal Opposition to Socialism."

Turn to a closer examination of FB's idea of competition, which FB defined as "merely the absence of any arbitrary authority set up as a judge over exchange" or as "freedom" itself. (p. 286).

3. Bastiat's Idea of Competition

FB believed that competition was the organising principle of the free market, and which led to "order." FB admits that "self-interest" and "competition" as separate ideas may have some unpleasant aspects. But when combined they led to social harmony, with the important proviso that the transactions entered into are voluntary.

FB's proviso is very important since FB had a very strict moral philosophy which (unlike many other political economists who believed they could create a value free economic "science", Germans called it "wertfrei") he carried over into his economic theory, viz a hatred of all forms of violence and coercion. Sole function of the state, FB believed, was to make sure that free market and competition could operate without violence and coercion interfering with private activity. (Return to this issue in Topic Six "Limited Government." FB stated his proviso thus:

...(the) formula is: progressive and voluntary association.
... political economy is based on this very assumtion, that society is purely an association of the kind described in the foregoing formula; a very imperfect association, to be sure, because man is imperfect, but capable of improvement as man himself improves; in other words, progressive. ... Provided the association remains voluntary, that force and constraint do not intervene, that the parties to the association do not propose to make others who refuse to enter foot the bill... (p. 17). (my emphasis)

FB complains that in the popular mind competition is associated with anarchy and disorder. However, to FB competition is what creates order, the spontaneous order of the free market.

New Overhead

Structure of FB's argument about how competetion in the free market creates order and harmony. See chapter on "Competition," pp. 284-316 in Economic Harmonies.

Every individual is self-interested and desires to satisfy his/her wants and to improve their situation. The only way to do this, FB believes, is to produce things. Since the individual cannot produce everything they want alone, they need the assistance of other indivuals (another example, along with JS Mill and Humboldt to show that "individualism" is not anti-social). Division of labour and exchange is the way the free market enables individuals to join together to satisfy their needs and wants. FB identifies three different ways in which individuals can be induced to part with what they have produced: by exchange, by deception, or by force. On moral grounds (FB's hatred of force and coercion) he cannot allow deception and force. This leaves the only morally acceptable method of sharing what one prodces - exchange. FB defines the offering of a service or a good in exchange for another service or good, in the absence of force or deception as "competition."

The next stage in FB's argument is the idea that the combination of self-interest and competition is "Harmony." The relationship or link between the two is defined as follows: (from extract)

... self-interest is that indomitable individualistic force within us that urges us on to progress and discovery, but at the same time disposes us to monopolise our discoveries. Competition (i.e. non-violent exchagne according to FB) is that no less indomitable humanitarian force that wrests progress, as fast as it is made, from the hands of the individual and places it at the disposal of all mankind. These two forces, which may well be deplored when considered individually, work together to create our social harmony. (p. 289)

FB argues that individuals can satisfy their selfish needs by making their own products or discoveries available to others in exchange for their discoveries or products. In other words by selling. An invention or discovery or product which once once "monopolised" by the individual is now made available, out of selfish reasons, to all by exchange. Modern example invention of VCR. Inventors could have kept it to amuse themselves but out of selfish motives (i.e. profit) sold it to tens of millions of individuals. Thus, in FB's terminology, what was a "monopoly" of a few became, through exchange and competition, the benefit of society. In FB's time the examples he would have used are things like sugar, tobacco, cotton textiles, transport (railways), which were once only affordable by the wealthy but because of competition and the mass market, were now readily available to all at low prices.

Inequality plays an important role in FB's idea of the free market. It is the "spur" or incentive to produce and exchange. But FB does not believe inequality is dangerous as long as (FB's "proviso" again) as the state impartially protects individuals from coercion, violence, and deception. In fact, inequality is the incentive to individuals to gradually reduce inequality (here meant the unequal access of individuals to certain products) by exchanging their goods and services on the free market. From extract.

...let competition appear on the scene, and there will be no more of these one-sided transactions, of these seizures of the gifts of God, of this revolting exorbitance in the evaluation of services, of these inequalities in the exchange of efforts.
And let us note, first of all, that competition must necessarily intervene, called into being, as it is, by the very fact of these inequalities. Labor instinctively moves in the direction that promises it the best returns, and thus unfailingly brings to an end the abnormal advantage it enjoyed; so that inequality is merely a spur that, in spite of ourselves, drives us toward equality. This is one of the finest examples of teleology in the social machine. Infinite goodness, which has distributed its blessings over the earth, hass, it would seem, selected the greedy producer as its agent for effecting their equitable distribution among all mankind, and it is certainly a wonderful sight to see self-interest continually bringing about the very thing it always tries to prevent. Man, as a producer, is necessarily, irresistibly, attracted toward the largest possible reward for his services, and by that very fact always brings them back into line. He pursues his own interest, and what does he promote, unwittingly, unwillingly, unintentionally? The general good. (pp. 292-3)

This argument about how selfish behaviour bringing about socially useful results is known as the "invisible hand" argument after Adam Smith's metaphor in The Wealth of Nations (1776), in which he likened the order and socially useful outcome of selfish market behaviour as though an "invisible hand" had been at work planning and ordering society.

FB believes that critics of competition ignore the fact that all workers are both buyers and sellers of goods and services. Socialists, for example, only discuss the worker as a seller of services (i.e. of labour) who can sometimes be harmed by competition, which FB calls "centrifugal competition" (i.e. tending to fly away from the centre, to fly apart or be destroyed by such action). FB believes that the harmful effects of competition to the wages of workers is greatly exaggerated. Modern industry can only surve by producing for a mass market, which results in competition among industry with higher wages to attract workers. The other side of the question of competition is that the worker is a buyer of goods and services and thus benefits enormously from competition, what FB calls "centripetal competition" (i.e. tending to the centre, to come together). Extract from additional sheet.

For this class of people (i.e. the working class), as for all others, the effect of competition is twofold. The error of all those who write on this subject is that they never see more than one side of the question, like physicists who, if they understood only the law of centrifugal force, would believe and constantly predict that all is lost. Provide them incorrect data, and you will see with what flawless logic they will lead you to their conclusions of doom. The same may be said of the lamentations that the socialists base on their exclusive preoccupation with the phenomenon of centrifugal (harmful) competititon, if I may use such an expression. They forget that there is als centripetal (beneficial) competition, and that is enough to reduce their theories to childish rantings. They forget that the worker, when he goes to market with the wages he has earned, is the centre toward which countless industries are directed, and that he then profits from the universal competition of which the industries all complain in their turn.
It is true that the members of the proletariat, when they consider themselves as producers, as suppliers of labour or services, also complain of competition. Let us admit, then, that competition is to their advantage on the one hand, and to their disadvantage on the other; the question is to determine whther the balance is favourable or unfavourable, or whether there are compensating factors. (p. 304)

FB believes that competition can only create antagonisms among men if they are considered solely as producers. If the other side of the question is considered, i.e. men as consumers, FB argues that "competition binds individuals, families, classes, nations and races together in the bonds of universal brotherhood." (p. 311). FB even goes so far as to say that competition "is one of the branches of the great law of human solidarity. See this idea again of peaceful nature of international competition and trade in Richard Cobden's opposition to war in Topic Ten.

4. The Idea of "Compensating" or "Disturbing Factors" Creating Disorder and Disharmony

FB believed that when one attempted to calculate the net balance of the benefits and costs of the free market or competition for the average person (i.e. the working class) conclusion one would reach is that the benefits were enormous (cheap and plentiful consumer goods, technical innovation, progress) and that most of the costs or negative aspects (poverty, low wages, unemployment) were the result of "disturbing factors" such as "the disrupting effects of unjust taxation and monopoly." (p. 305)

FB takes example of poverty or "pauperism," the great "social question" of the 1840s. Rejects idea that poverty is natural, cannot accept it as part of divine plan. Thus, there remain two possibilities to explain exisitence of poverty:

  • artificial or "disturbing" factors have been introduced into natural order (FB's distinction between artificial and natural places him in natural rights tradition)
  • individuals are poor because of mistakes they themselves have made. E.g Malthusian notion that they have had too many children to support from their income.

Since FB believed that "freedom is harmony" (p.467) and that

"True harmony springs spontaneously from man's nature and will persist unless destroyed by government action. To achieve it (harmony), government is not required to strain painfully or to spend great sums, encroaching the while on individual liberty. (p. 472)

Thus, the source of disorder and disharmony must be "artificial" elements which include:

  • the artificially created inequality which is the result of political action. This includes the granting of government sanctioned monopolies, restrictions to trade, high taxes, price controls, highly paid government positions, influence peddling by vested interest groups, subsidies and loans from the state
  • producers (i.e. capitalists) who resent the discipline of competition and prefer to promote "their special class interests" (p. 314) at the expence of the general mass of consumers and other producers in competititon with them. They call for subsidies, export bounties, tariffs.
  • the unjust remnants of a past era of privilege and oppression, such as the continuation of serfdom, unjust property ownership especially of land (compare Hodgskin, Mill and Spencer on land), slavery, war and national debt (requiring high taxes to be paid by future generations)

FB's term for one of the most important of the disturbing factors which disrupted the free market and made poverty widespread was "legal plunder." See FB's essay "Property and Plunder" in Selected Essays in Political Economy, pp. 152-93 listed in Topic Two on Property Rights. "Legal plunder" was the legalised use of force by one group at the expense of another. FB rejects socialist argument that industry and free competition is the cause of worker poverty and misery. Instead it is the result of centuries of legalised plunder of workers by the state and privileged classes which industry and the free market are only just beginning to destroy and replace.

Legal plunder is the result of the following historical events:

  • War - e.g. the principle means of acquiring wealth in Ancient Rome - compare Constant's idea of ancient liberty - war as "transient plunder"
  • Slavery - the basis for production in the ancient world and in the Americas. "plunder on a permanent footing".
  • Serfdom in the feudal system of the Middle Ages - plunder "practised by the abuse of religious authority.
  • in the 19th C - serfdom still covers half of Europe; existence of powerful standing armies which need massive taxation to be maintained; government debt; the slave trade and slavery in the colonies; professional licencing of doctors, lawyers, printers, butchers which restrict employment opportunities; tariffs which make consumer goods more expensive; and taxation and government employment - everyone in France seems to want to work for the government. All are disturbing factors which interfere with positive effects of competition and free market.

FB concludes that it is not surprising that there is so much poverty and misery in Europe. Only hope is to end plunder and respect property rights (exchange of service for service instead of plunder), especially to introduce a system of international free trade (to lower price of bread) and thus allow the free market and competition to creat order and harmony.



VIII. FREE MARKET II: Laissez-faire

A. Summary

First Lecture:

  • Bastiat, harmony of the free market, natural order, competition, "disturbing factors"

Second Lecture:

  • Laissez-faire, definition and advocates
  • Mill's reservations

B. Introduction

C. Definition of Laissez-faire and its Advocates in the Nineteenth Century

D. Definition and History of Expression "Laissez-faire"

Origin of term "Laissez-faire" in 17th and 18th centuries. In France it was slogan of the Physiocrats in their campaign to deregulate the grain trade. In Scotland, Adam Smith developed slogan into a systematic economic theory, with some exceptions. Provided ammunition for even more radical LF theorists in 19thC as well as JSM's reservations and exceptions.

Precise origins of term not esasy to determine. The Physiocrat and government minister Turgot believes origin of term goes back to 1664 when merchant Legendre answered a question put to him by Colbert concerning what the state could do to improve trade and prosperity with statement "laissez nous faire" (leave us alone). Realted in Turgot's "Éloge de Vincent de Gournay," (1759). Another Physiocrat, Quesnay, interpreted phrase to mean "ne pas trop gouverner" (do not govern too much). The Physiocratic journal Éphémerides du citoyen used slogan "laissez faire et laissez passer" during 1760s to summarise the means they advocated to achieve specific result of the dereulation of the grain trade. "Leave merchants and farmers free to go about their business as they see fit."

Good definition given by 19thC French advocate of LF, Joseph Garnier, in article "Laissez faire, laissez passer" in Dictionnaire de l'économie politique (1852). Defines LF as "laissez travailler" (leave us free to pursue any occupation as we see fit) and LP as "laissez échanger" (leave us free to trade, buy and sell, as we see fit). Some critics of LF argue that it means the freedom to do anything one wants in economics, morality, politics and religion. Garnier believes that economists who advocated LF have been misrepresented by critics such as "partisans of regulation in all its forms, socialists, protectionists, adminstrators, interventionists" etc who interpret LF to mean "la libre dépradation" (the right to exploit or take what rightfully belongs to another). Garnier denies that LF has any meaning outside of economics and thus defines it economically as

as simply the freedom to work and to exchange the fruits of one's labour without restrictions and preventive measures, with the guarantee of laws which punish acts that are damaging to the property and the labour of others.

Very similar to F Bastiat's proviso.

I will take this as a good working definition of LF as it was understood in the 19thC. However, not a simple principle. I distinguish between three different forms of belief in LF: extreme, moderate and weak LF.

Extreme LF: believe literally that government should never interfere in operations of the free market. Leads to the free market anarchism of Herbert Spencer, Thomas Hodgskin, Gustave de Molinari.

Moderate LF: do not push idea so far as to want to do without state entirely. Need for state to provide legal framework in which market operates, i.e. police, law courts, defense. Jean-Baptiste Say, F. Bastiat. Leads to idea of the "limited state."

Weak LF: believe LF should be the assumption to work with unless expediency. social utility demands government intervention. Especially in public goods which market cannot or will not provide such as highways, canals, education, regulation of industry (safety, working hours). Adam Smith, most classical political economists, JSMill. Leads to a form of liberal welfare state.

E. Nineteenth Century Advocates of Laissez-Faire

A range of individuals and groups who believed in extreme or moderate LF in 19thC. Include:

  • Harriet Martineau, first woman professional journalist, populariser of CPE, advocated LF in Illustrations of Political Economy (1832-4)
  • The editor and journalists of the business weekly The Economist - James Wilson, Herbert Spencer, Thomas Hodgskin.
  • The French school of Classical Political Economy. Much more LF than English counterparts. Influence of Physiocrats, natural rights arguments. Include Jean-Baptiste Say, Charles Dunoyer, Léon Faucher, Joseph Garnier, Frédéric Bastiat. Organs of propaganda - Journal des économistes (1842-), Dictionnaire d'économie politique (1852).

Discuss H Martineau and The Economist. Leave French CPEs because of language problem. Little translated. Discussed Bastiat last lecture. JBS's Traité in library if anyone wants to look at it.

1. Harriet Matrtineau (1802-1876)- Populariser of Laissez-Faire

a. Biography

British journalist, social commentator, and feminist. Born in Nrwich in 1802, middle class family engaged in textile trade. Strongly Unitarian, i.e. dissenting, religion. Overcame disadvantages of being self-taught, deaf, and high strung temperament to become one of 19thC England's major intellectuals, first woman professional journalist, social reformer (abolition of slavery, rights of women), populariser of liberal political and economic thought (laissez-faire, positivism). One of the most famnous women of her time. Celebrity status with successful Illustrations of Political Economy which by 1834 selling, amazingly, 10,000 copies (monthly didactic stories about CPE).

Travelled to USA 1834-36 where she was feted by political leaders such as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshal, senators and two presidents Andrew Jackson and James Madison. Made contact with radical abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and addressed public meetings to speak out against slavery. Wrote classical pioneering sociological study of how well America lived up to principle of democratic equality of constitution in practice - Society in America (1837). On ship going out to Americ HM wrote excellent methodological essay on How to Observe Manners and Morals (1838).

Throughout her life interested in "the woman question" i.e. feminism. Wrote about and took up causes to improve condition of women. Wrote articles on women for Daily News, the Edinburgh Review, the London and Westminster Review in which she advocated woman's right to work, right to education, sensible dress and health measures, better treatment of needle women, governesses and domestic servants. Supported colleges for women, women participation in political activity and signed first petition for vote for women that went to parliament under sponsorship of JSM in 1866.

On negative side HM believed in mesmerism and phrrenology, disapproved of unmarried sexual relations (e.g. Harriet Taylor and JSM), wrote some very bad fiction. Other important things she did include writing critical works on religion (alienated her striclt Unitarian family), translated Comte's Positive Philosophy (1853), popular history The History of England during the Thirty Years Peace 1816-46 (1849-50), journalism on national and international affairs number 1400 lewaders for Daily News 1852-66.

Source Gayle Graham Yates in Wintle's makers of Nineteenth Century Culture.

b. Harriet Martineau's Illustrations of Poltiical Economy (1832-4)

Not so unusual that a woman would be interested in political economy. What is unusual is HM's considerable success at popularising it. Amusing anecdote quoted by Maria Edgeworth to her aunt in 1822 (quoted by Scott Gordon, "The Ideology of LF" in Coats) about how faddish learning CPE was among some young ladies of accomplishment.

It has now become high fashion with blue ladies to talk political economy... Fine ladies now require that their daughters' governessess should teach political economy. "Pray Ma'am," said a fine Mamma to one who came to offer herself as governess, "Do you teach political economy?" The governess who, thought she had provided herself well with French, Italian, music, drawing, dancing, etc, was quite astounded by this unexpected requisition she hesitatingly answered - "No, Ma'am, I cannot say I teach political economy, but I would if you think proper try to learn it." - "Oh dear no, Ma'am - if you don't teach it you won't do for me." (p. 190)

Although HM not a fine "blue" lady but from a middle class background and self-taught she was very familiar with CPE and was persuaded that the working class wanted to learn about it as well. Found it hard to find a publisher for IPE. Only found a publisher when she agreed to accepted all risks of loss. HM correct in assessment about popular interest in CPE. Sale of her didactic stories about CPE sold fantastically well and made her reputation and her publisher's fortune. Stories not good literature. Similar to uplifting and inspirational religious literature common in 19thC. Not heavy handed in pushing ideas of CPE. Needed to have "Summary of Principles Illustrated in this Volume" at the end of each to clarify. Altogether 25 such summaries. In these summaries HM stated perfection of competitive system, harmony of interests in free market, pernicious consequences of government intereference.

Handout of selection of "Principles."

HM important because she shows how the theoretical ideas of "academic" economists reach a wider audience. LIke F Bastiat, reached a wide audience with easily approachable newspaper and journal articles which sold well and were later collected into book form.

2. The "High Tide" of Laissez-faire: James Wilson, Herbert Spencer, Thomas Hodgskin atThe Economist

Another example of how ideas are propagated to a wider audience.

a. Biography of James Wilson (1805-1859)

JW son of a small Scottish manufacurer in Hawick, in Roxburghshire. Apprenticed at age 16 to another small manufacturer. Father bought this business for JW and his brother. Firm moved to London in 1824 when JW continued in business until founded E in 184? Became active in free trade movement in 1839 by writing a pamphlet Influences of the Corn Laws in which he attacked idea that protection of trade benefited agricultural classes. Called for end of government interference in economy and introdcution of free trade. JW came to attention of the leaders of the Anti-Corn Law League, invited him to speak at meetings. Wanted to assist free trade cause by starting weekly newspaper called The Economist, or the Political, Commercial, Agricultural, and Free Trade Journal.. Success of E led to connections in political and business circles. Contested seat of Westbury for Liberal Party in 184? After 6 months was given office in Russell government. Became finiancial secretary to the Treasury from 1852-5? When Liberals returned to office in 1859 became vice-president of the Board of Trade, and afterwards appointed a Financial Member for the Council for India. Left in October 1859 for India but died shortly after arrival.

JW appointed Thomas Hodgskin and Herbert Spencer to the E in early days. TH began writing in early 1844 doing most of the reviews of books and pamphlets on economic issues including JSM's Principles of Political Economy (1848) and Herbert Spencer's Social Statics (1851), and many leading articles. HS was assistant editor 1846-5? HS did little writinig but supervised the factual and statistical parts of journal. Seemed to spend most of his time writing his own books such as SS.

Extracts of Scott Gordon article "The London Economist and the High Tide of Laissez-faire."

  • p. 47? Political economy not "political" but anti-political.
  • p. 478-? That self-love and social are the same, interference of government not LF which causes social problems.
  • pp. 484-8? Objected to state supply of water to London, state provision of urban sanitation ("town guano"), state education.

3. John Stuart Mill's Reservations about Laissez-Faire on the Grounds of Utility

JSM's Principles of Political Economy (1st edition 1848) most thorough and complete summation of Classical Political Economy (CPE) at height of school's influence and power. Section which conserns us here is Book V "On the Influence of Government" especially chapter XI "Of the Grounds and Limits of the Laissez-Faire or Non-interference Principle," pp. 304-46 of Penguin edition.

Begins Book V with claim that the injustice and absurd activities of governments has resulted in the development of a theory (i.e. the laissez-faire theory) which opposes government interference. Calls it "a spirit of resistance in limine to the interference of government, merely as such." JSM wants to steer path between two extremes - excessive government activity and extreme LF.

One of the most disputed questions both in political science and in practical statemanship at this particular period, relates to the proper limits of the functions and agency of governments... On the one hand, impatient reformers, thinking it easier and shorter to get possession of the government than of the intellects and dispositions of the public, are under a constant temptation to stretch the province of government beyond due bounds; while, on the other, mankind have been so much accustomed by their rulers to interference for purposes other than the public good, or under an erroneous conception of what that good requires, and so many rash proposals are made by sincere lovers of improvement, for attempting, by compulsory regulation, the attainment of objects which can only be effectually or only usefully compassed by opinion and discussion, that there has grown up a spririt of resistance in limine (at the threshhold, or from the very beginning) to the interference of government, merely as such, and a disposition to restrict its sphere of action within the narrowist bounds. From differences in the historical development of different nations, not necessarily to be here dwelt upon, the former excess, that of exaggerating the province of government, prevails most, both in theory and practice, among the continental nations, while in England the contrary spirit has hitherto been predominant. (PPE, pp. 145-6, Penguin ed.)

Unlike the believers in LF, JSM considers "the necessary functions of government ... (to be) considerably more multifarious than most people are at first aware of " (p. 146). He divides government functions into "necessary" and "optional" functions. "Necessary functions" of government are those "inseparable from the idea of government" such as defence and the police, and those "exercised habitually and without objection by all governments" such as the coining of money and powers of taxation. Defines "optional functions" zs those which are a matter of expediency and public opnion.

a. Optional Functions of Government

JSM attacks advocates of LF because they exclude "some of the most indispensable and unanimously recognised of the duties of government" (p. 304). Yet believes that

Laissez-faire, in short, should be the general practice: every departure form it, unless required by some great good, is a certain evil. (p. 314).

JSM shows how far he is from the LF position with this utilitarian proviso, elsewhere expressed as follows: that the free market should be allowed to function unimpeded by state interference unless "overruled by counter-considerations of still greater importance." (p. 317). The following areas of activity rquire government intervention in order to provide that "great good" which thus overturns the general inclination towards LF.

  • when the consumer of goods or services is not a competent judge of the product, e.g. on need for education. Government needs to provide education to civilise the people. Oblige parents to educate their children. No need for government monoply of education however. e.g. the protection of animals.
  • restrictions on contracts
  • industries which have a practical monopoly cannot be left to free market, e.g. gas and water compnaies, paving and cleaning streets, roads, canals, railways.
  • reducing the hours of labour
  • the systematic organisation of public charity, the Poor Laws
  • matters in the national interest such as limiting private and voluntary emmigration to the colonies. JSM suppports Wakefield scheme of government controlled colonisation through company with monopoly.
  • public services not profitable to private associations such as voyages of geographical and scientific exploration, lighthouses, scientific research. Government must provide "for the maintenance of what has been called a learned class" (p. 343), professorships.

Good summary statement and example of JSM's reasoning against LF or "non-intervention" principle on pp. 317-8 of PPE. Argues that when it come to choosing the means to achieve an end, the LF principle is best, but when it comes to selecting the appropriate end, especially if the end is one "which society has much at stake" (p. 317), then the government can and should intervene.

We have observed that, as a general rule, the business of life is better performed when those who have an immediate interest in it are left to take their own course, uncontrolled either by the mandate of the law or by the meddling of any public functionary. The persons, or some of the persons, who do the work, are likely to be better judges than the government, of the means of attaining the particular end at which they aim.... But if the workman is generally the best selector of means, can it be affirmed with the same universality, that the consumer, or person served, is the most competent judge of the end? Is the buyer always qualified to judge of the commodity? If not, the presumption in favour of the competition of the market does not apply to the case: and if the commodity be one, in the quality of which society has much at stake, the balance of advantages may be in favour of some mode and degree of intervention, by the authorised representatives of the collective interests of the state.

Important example of education. JSM takes issue with French LF advocate Charles Dunoyer, described by JSM as "a writer, with whom on many points I agree, but whose hostility to government intervention seems to me to be too indiscriminate and unqualified." (p. 318 footnote). JSM reveals his elitist concern that, if the state does not provide education, the progress of civilisation will be retarded since only state education can provide "the highest quality of education to the few, and keeping up the perpetual succession of superior minds, by whom knowledge is advanced, and the community urged forward in civilisation." (p. 319, footnote). Assumption behind JSM's faith in ability of state to overcome deficiencies of the free market by intervention is superior knowledge, intelligence and "cultivation" of state officials to ordinary people. What one might call the "hubris of the ruling élite."

Example of education very important one. Revealing of JSM's reservations about LF principle. Argument that people "need to be made wiser and better" and perhaps happier by government action.

But there are other things, of the worth of which the demand of the market is by no means a test; things of which the utility does not consist in ministering to inclinations, nor in serving the daily uses of life, and the want of which is least felt where the need is greatest. This is particularly true of those things which are chiefly useful as tending to raise the character of human beings. The uncultivated cannot be competent judges of cultivation. Those who most need to be made wiser and better, usually desire it least, and if they desired it, would be incapable of finding the way to it by their own lights. It will continually happen, on the voluntary system, tht the end not being desired, the means will not be provided at all, or that, the persons requiring improvement having an imperfect or altogether erroneous conception of what they want, the supply called forth by the demand of the market will be anything but what is really required. Now any well-intentioned and tolerably civilised government may think, without presumption, that it does or ought to possess a degree of cultivation above the average of the community which it rules, and that it should therefore be capable of offering better education and better instruction to the people, than the greater number of them would spontaneously demand. Education, therefore, is one of those things which it is admissable in principle that a government should provide for the people. The case is one to which the reasons of the non-interference principle do not necessarily or universally extend. (p. 318).

Recall statement by Thomas Hodgskin about how well suited "the Philosophy of Westminster" (i.e Benthamite utilitarianism) is to the needs of a paternalistic ruling class.

Messrs. Bentham and Mill, both being eager to exercise the power of legislation, represent (government) as a beneficent deity which curbs our naturally evil passions and desires...
Such deductions would be shocking, if they were not eminently absurd... they are the legitimate results of a system dominated, from the seat and centre of civilzation, the Philosophy of Westminster...
The doctrines accord too well with the practice of law-givers, they cut too securely all the gordian knots of legislation, not to be readily adopted by those who, however discontented they may be with a distribution of power, in which no share falls to them, are anxious to become the tutelary guardians of the happiness of mankind. (NARPC)

JSM typical of British school of CPE in rejecting LF principle as a universal principle. Limits to government activity determined by historical necessaity and expediency. Implies there really is no real limit to what the state can and should do.

... the intervention of government cannot always practically stop short at the limit (defined by the LF principle)... In the particular circumstances of a given age or nation, there is scarcely anything really important to the general interest, which it may not be desirable, or even necessary, that the government should not take upon itself... (p. 345)

F. Conclusion

The influence of Benthamite utilitarianism in Britain meant that most members of the school of CPE did not support LF. Their adherence to the principle of utility led to a huge number of exceptions to "the general maxim" of LF as JSM demonstrates. JSM said the presumption was in favour of LF unless expediency or historical necessity demanded intervention by the state. As the 19thC wore on the CPEs found more and more cases where expediency was more important than LF principle.

One has to look outside the British school of CPE to find true advocated of LF. many more LF advocates in French school of CPE (due to less influence of Bentham and utilitarianism, greater influence of natural rights thinking) such as Jean-Baptiste Say, Gustave de Molinari, influential editor of the leading journal of CPE Journal des économistes. Best examples of LF in Britain were journalists and private writers/scholars such as Harriet Martineau (professional journalist and populariser of CPE), James Wilson/Herbert Spencer/Thomas Hodgskin who wrote for business weekly The Economist.



IX. POLITICAL LIBERALISM I: Constitutionalism, Freedom of Speech and Electoral Reform

A. Summary

Today's lecture: Constitutionalism in Restoration France - Benjamin Constant and the Principles of Politics (1815).

Friday: Freedom of speech - BC, James and JS Mill

B. Constitutionalism

One of the fundamental questions of political philosophy is "What should government do?" Once this question answered, problem of how to limit government to these duties. Answer many 18th and 19thC liberals gave was a set of rules setting down clearly what government could do and how it could do it - i.e. a constitution. Constitution defined rights and duties of state vis-à-vis individual citizen in explicit laws. One of key ideas behind constitution was to protect individual from arbitrary power of state.

Three models for 19thC liberals

  • English Settlement of 1688 (Glorious Revolution which put William of Orange on throne) - constitutional monarchy
  • American Constitution of September 1787 - constitutional republic
  • French Constitutional Charter of 1814.

As with many aspects of liberal thought and practice, movement from west to east. British and American model from 17th and 18thC, then: France 1814, Southern German states 1818, Belgium 1831, Prussia 1848, Germany 1871, Russia 1905.

Only partially successful in limiting state activity and protecting individual liberty. Monarchs learnt tricks to avoid limits imposed on them by constitutions. Manipulate suffrage conditions. Ministers responsable to monarch and not chamber. Secrecy of activities. Difficult to initiate legislatioon for Chamber. Stacked upper house with conservatives. Read details in Anderson and Anderson, Political Institutions and Social Change in Contintental Europe (1967) and Hamerow, The Birth of a New Europe (1983).

Examine French constitutional thought - contribution of Benjamin Constant and Charter of 1814.

C. Constitutionalism and Benjamin Constant (1767-1830)

1. Biography of Benjamin Constant

BC's family were protestant French but had sought refuge in Lausanne, Switzerland to escape religious presecution. BC's mother died 8 days after giving birth to BC. Father a colonel in Swiss regiment in service of Holland. Because of considerable absences of his father BC received a poor early education at hands of female relatives. Luckily able to go to University of Eralngen, Bavaria in 1782 at age of 1? Then two years at University of Edinburgh. Beginning of BC's interest in British liberalism and constitutionalism.

Before meeting Madame de Staël in September 1792 in Switzerland BC led a dissolute life of failed love affairs, gambling debts, elopements, duels and attempts at suicide. Fell in love with MS and accompanied her to Paris in following year. Active iniher salon which was meeting place for constitutional monarchists and old supporters of deposed monarch. BC began to write for the press and pamphlets on contemporary issues. Attempted to stand in elections in 1799 for Geneva but defeated. Elected to consultative body known as Tribunate shortly afterwards. Became critic of Napoleon's attempts to dismantle representative system and any checks to his power. BC dismissed from post in 1802 and went into exile for next 12 years until Coalition troops invaded Paris in 1814.

Spent time travelling and at MS's chateau in Coppet, Switzerland. Wrote a famous romantic ovel Adolphe (1807). When Napoleon escaped from Elba after his first abdication, asked BC to collaborate in drafting new consitution for a liberal Empire. Result was Acte additionnel aux constitutions de l'empire , also known as the "Benjamine," was a compromise between Napoleon's and BC's views. Never implemented but was an interesting design for a constitutional monarchy with property-based but still quite extensive franchise.

While still advisor to Napoleon on constitutional reform BC published his own views in Principes de politique (1815) translated by Fontana. When Napoleon fell again, BC went into exile as a collaborator. Spent time in England until return in 1817.

Elected to Chamber of Deputies in 1819 as member for Sarthe - 1819-22 and Paris 1824-30 - where he opposed a series of reactionary laws such as restrictions on freedom of speech imposed by reactionary monarchy to stifle criticism of régime. Ally of General Lafayette (had been a friend of George Washington) and member of extreme left wing of the Constitutional Group in Chamber of Deputies. Group included Duc de Broglie, Guizot, nicknamed "Doctrinaires" by a magazine for their policy of compromise). Restoration politics divided into three "parties" - the "Ultras" who supported return to the ancien régime, the "Ministerials" who supported the Charter of 1814, and the "Independants" who were more radical liberals. Independents found support amongst radical youth, business and farming interests who disliked court and ecclesiastical party, and the "Bonapartistes" and supporters of Lafayette who supported ideals of 1789.

BC keen pamphlet writer attacking reactionary policies of restored monarchy. Example, pamphlet urging voters (extremely limited franchise to men over 30 who paid F300 per annum) to be aware of government's efforts to subvert constitution with new laws on censorship and religious toleration. Repeatedly subjected to censorship by regime. Thus wrote a pamphlet of 34 pages (those under 30 pages censored) and put replies to government criticism of him in the footnotes which he thought the cenors would never read.

BC wrote for major liberal opposition newspaper Le Mercure which was closed down by government in January 1818 for publishing an extract of a book on the Concordat which had escaped the censor.. Paper relaunched under new name, Le Minerve française which became the organ of the "Lberal Party" during Restoration. Suppressed again in 1820 after assassination of the Duc de Berry. Major themes taken up in BC's journalism freedcom of the press, defense of oppressed groups such as peasants against aristocratic landlords, slaves in Santo Domingo, and Greeks in struggle against Turkish Empire.

Elected as Deputy from Sarthe in March 181? Soon after made a patriotic address to his electors, "Letter to the Inhabitants..." to affirm his liberal principles (liberty of conscience, industry and the press, strict observance of the laws (i.e. the Charter), personal security, and rights of communes against central government. Supported two important measures in next session of the Chamber of Deputies concerning responsibility of ministers and freedom of the press. Colourful character in CD. Amusing anecdote about a duel he fought from an armchair.

On BC's rather odd appearance and behaviour in CD and his reputatiuon as one of great orators of Chamber:

He always wore, when he arrived, his costume of deputy, blue embroidered with silver... an old round hat on his head, under his arms a redingote (long, double-breasted overcoat), books, manuscrip, printer's prrofs, the budget and his crutch. He took his seat at the extreme left and began at once to write and dispatch notes and letters in infinite and incredible number, at the same time correcting proofs, making notes of speeches and answering the questions of those who pressed around... When his turn came to speak he seemed to select a few papers by chance, and walked slowly to his place. Once he began to speak, his peculiarities were forgotten... At first his long pale face of Puritanical cast was immovable, his voice monotonous, his speech slow, but as he warmed up his big blue eyes flashed with sudden light... One could listen for hours without weariness... He loved calmly and quietly to stir up the passions of his adversaries by a neat pleasantry, which disarmed them even while it excited their mirth.. But especially on the subject of the Liberty of the Press he was always fresh and warm. (Schermerhon, p. 334, quoting contemporary description).

BC a bit eccentric and amusing in his antics in Chamber. BC had injured his knee showing off to some ladies in July 1818 by trying to show how nimble he was at age 53 by jumping over a piece of wood. Fell again in CD permanently injuring knee which meant he had to get about on crutches. BC fought a duel with a conservative opponent after journalistic debate in newspaper became too heated. BC fought his "parody of a duel" while seated in an armchair, since he could not stand.

Major object of legislation during 10 years BC was in Chamber concerned the constitutional structure of France. Constant debate about whether Charter or the Crown had priority. Specific legislation and struggle about electoral laws, restrictions of individual liberty, freedom of the press (BC's maiden speech in CD on this). BC was acknowledge leader on the liberal opposition because of his theoretical knowledge of constitutional principles.

1822 BC arrested and falsely accused of engaging in plot to overthrow government. First deputy to be brought before Court of Assizes. Resluted in not being reelected so devoted himself to finishing a book on The History of Religions. Stood for election again in 1824 and elected deputy representing Paris. Sign of government's fear of BC's criticism and political activity that it tried to have him barred from Chamber on grounds that he was not a French citizen having been born in Geneva. Activity in this period in CD was opposition to Indemnity Bill to reimburse emigré aristocrats for property lost during revolution. Opposed growing power of church which forced censorship of religious literature and sought exclusion of Protestants from teaching poistions in schools and universities. Opposed new restrictive press laws 1827.

Elected 1827 deputy for lower Rhineland (Alsace and Baden , German speaking and liberal stronghold) which he represented until death in 1830.

2. Constitutionalism in France and the Charter of 1814

Constitutionalism recent development in France and quite insecure. Failure of the revolutionary constitutions of 1791 and 1793 with Terror. Napoleon's Civil Code of 1804 had some liberal elements but tainted by Napoleon's dictatorship. 1814 Charter ayttempt at compromise between restored absolutist monarch and the radically altered social and poltical conditions created by revolution. Monarch Louis XVIII had to accept some limitations on power but endeavoured, with help of aristocracy and church to restore as much of the ancien régime as possible. Tricks and manipulation to avoid rreal limits to crown's power. BC's writings designed to make use of the liberal constitutional provisions of the Charter in a precarious situation.

Charter of 4 June 1814 commonly viewed by liberals like BC as the only way to avoid tyranny of revolution and absolutist despotism of ancien regime. Charter established constitutional representative government but left unresolved ceratin matters which enabled arbitrary government to reappear in Restoration period.

Problem of ministerial respsonsability. Weakness was that ministers were not responsable to Chamber of Deputies but to monarch. Ministers could be charged and tried for not carrying out duties only before Chamber of Peers not to CDs. Monarch could choose ministers and they did not have to come from party with majority.

BC active in period 1814-1830 (when Revolution of 1830, brought to power July Monarchy with a much more liberal responsable constitutional government). Wrote Réflexions sur les constitutions (May 1814), De la respnsabilité des ministres (February 1815), Principes de politique (May 1815). Wrote first draft of Charter which Napoleon accepted in 1814 and on which the 1815 Charter owed much (but with some important changes).

3. Constant's Theory of a Liberal Constitution

4 key concepts:

  • the existence of a neutral power, i.e. the monarchy
  • the principle of ministerial responsibility
  • the need for an hereditary assembly (Upper House or Chamber of Peers)
  • opposition to arbitrary government

a. Concept of monarchy as "neutral power"

Monarchy would have "prerogative powers" and would act as the "judicial power of the other powers" i.e. monarchy could intervene in activity of other branches of government in order to maintain law, order and stability. CB changed 18thC division of powers into three (Montesquieu's idea of "mixed" constitution made up of executive, jdicial, legislative barnches. Model of USA's constitution). BC wants 5 branches or powers of government.

  • royal power
  • executive power - cabinet ministers
  • the permanent power - hereditary assembly
  • power of opinion - elected assembly
  • the judicial power

Concept of royal power based on example of British constitutional monarchy. Purpose of the crown is to end dangerous struggles and reestablishes harmony between the other powers. Can do this by dismissing ministers, dissolving elected chamber, granting pardons, creating new peers. Monarch somehow is above politics narrowly conceived and separate from executive power. BC believed that without "neutral" royal power one of the other branches could dominate. Historical examples BC gives include the spectre of arbitrary legislativce power of Long Parliament during English Civil War and Convention in French Revolution. Arbitrary executive power of Roman Empire and Napoleon. Both possible because lacked "neutral" royal power.

Royal power (I mean the power of the head of state, whatever title he happens to bear) is a neutral power. That of the ministers instead is an active power....
The executive, legislative and judicial powers are three competences which must cooperate, each in their own sphere, in the general movement. When these competences, disturbed in their functions, cross, clash with and hinder one another, you need a power which can restore them to their proper place. This force cannot reside within one of these three competences, lest it should assist it in destroying the others. It must be external to it, and it must in some sense neutral, so that its action might be necessarily applied whenever it is genuinely needed, and so that it may preserve and restore without being hostile.
Constitutional monarchy creates this neutral power in the person of the head of state. The true interest of the head of state is not that any of these powers should overthrow the others, but that all of them should support and understand one another and act in concert. (Fontana, p. 184)

BC's idea of "neutral" power of crown similar to English notion of the "prerogative power" which A.V. Dicey defined as:

"the residue of discretionary or arbitrary authority which at any time is legally left in the hands of the crown. (AV Dicey, Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (1885)).

Argument used to justify Governor General Kerr's dismissal of Gough Witlam's Labor government in 1975 to overvcome deadlock between lower and upper houses over budget.

b. Ministerial Responsiblity

Control of the Cabinet/ministry to be completely in the hands of the monarch who had power to appoint and dismiss. Although ministers were not directly responsable to the elected chamber (as our minsters are in Westminster system), they were legally responsable for their actions. I.e. they could be punished by the courts for "illegal of arbitrary acts" such as an unjust or badly managed war, bad financial operations, dangerous and defective practices in the administration of jsutice.

The present cosntitution is perhaps the only one to have established, on the resp[onsibility of ministers, principles which are both perfectly applicable and sufficiently extensive.
Ministers can face accusation, and deserve to be prosecuted, in three different ways: 1. through the abuse or misuse of their legal power 2. through illegal acts prejudicial to the public interest, yet bearing no direct relation on particular individuals 3. through assaults upon the liberty, security and property of individuals...
A minister who commits illegal acts against the liberty or the property of a citizen does not err in his capacity as minister, since none of his powers gives him the right to act illegally against the liberty or property of any individual. He belongs to the class of all other offenders, and must be prosecuted and punished like them. (p. 227 Fontana)...
Consequently, for all those crimes the victims of which are private indidivuals, these must be able to bring a legal action direclty against the ministers... (p. 228).
This does not mean that the representatives of the nation do not also have the right and the duty to respond to any attacks that the ministers might make against liberty, whenever the citizens, who are their victims, do not dare make their complaints heard. The same article which permits the accusation of the ministers for compromising the security or honour of the state, grants to our representatives the power to accuse them if they introduce into the government what is most contrary to the security and the honour of the government, that is, arbitrariness. We cannot refuse the citizen the right to demand redress for the wrong of whihc he is the victim. But we must also see that the men invested with his trust should be able to take his cause into their hands. This double guarantee is both legitimate and indispensable. (p. 229)...

These provisions too radical for the Restored monarchy so not used in Charter of 181? Too much power would have been taken away from crown as individuals or lower house could initiate legal proceedings. In eventual Charter of 1815 Article 56 stated only that "ministers can be accused (impeached) only for acts of treason and peculation." Similar provision exists in American Constitution as a check against power of the executive (President). Power of impeachment used by Congress to discipline Pres. Nixon over Watergate affair. Nixon forced to resign to avoid this.

BC was an extreme Anglophile and admired British constitutional monarchy. BC and Madame de Staël thought the English had reached the highest perfection of constitutional government. Believed the French 1814 restoration and Charter combined the best aspects of 2 English Revolutions: 1660 (restored monarchy after English Civil War) and 1688 Glorious revolution with the constitutionally limited monarchical power of William III). However BC misunderstood nature of ministerial responsibility in British system. Mistook penal responsibility and cabinet responsibility.

c. Importance of an Hereditary Assembly

In the period known as the Hundred Days, when Napoleon returned to power temporarily after his first abdication in 1814 and before he was finally crushed in 1815, BC able to persuade Napoleon to accept a Chamber of Peers.

I saw in hereditary magistracy one more barrier against the authority of a man and I was seeking everywhere for barriers. (From Memoirs sur les Cents jours )

Peerage viewed by BC as a device to avoid Napoleonic dictatorship and excessive powers of democratic lower house such as Convention or Jacobins. Also needed to tie nobility to constitutional system so they would have stake in wanting to defend it.

In a hereditary monarchy, the existence of a hereditary class is indespensible... For the government of one man to subsist without a hereditary class, it must indeed be pure despotism... The elements of the government of one man, without a hereditary class are: a single man who rules, soldiers who execute and a people that obeys. In order to give further support to the monarchy, you need an intermediate body. Whenever you place a single individual in such a high position it is necessary, unless you want to have him permanently sword in hand, to surround him with other men who have an interest in defending him...
Would those who dispute the hereditary character of the first chamber wish to have the nobility subsisting alongside but apart from that chamber, and create the latter only for life? What would a hereditary nobility without functions be, alongside a life magistracy charged with important functions? This is exactly what the French nobility was in the years before the revolution, and it was precisely this that prepared its ruin. Nobility was seen only as an elegant decoration, without any precise function... It was not an intermediary body, which kept the people in order, and watched over liberty. It was a corporation without foundation, and without a fixed place in the social body. (Fontana, pp. 198-99)

d. Opposition to Arbitrary Authority

BC believed the end of the ancien régime with the French Revolution was the beginning of a new era, "the epoch of legal convetions," which was the antithesis of arbitrary government. BC defined arbitrary government as "the absence of rules, limits, definitions; in a word, the absence of all that is exact." Political constitutions were like contracts which defined precise and exact limits on government power to prevent ito from becomning arbitrary. The Terror during the French Revolution was an excellent example of arbitrariness used to destroy legitimate powers. Restoration became example to arbitrariness used to reestablish illegitimte power. Unlike Bentham BC believed that constitutions do not create rights but recognise pre-exisitnig rights and declare them publicly.

Chapter "On the Liberty of the Individual" pp. 289-95 BC discusses harm arbitrary government does. Destroys morality, breaks domestic bonds, "enemy of all transactions that establish the prosperity of peoples" (p. 290). Only way to prevnet arbitrary power is "the observance of (legal) proceedures" (p. 292), ie. constitutions.

BC faced problem of whether one should obey arbitrary power when it transgresses these rights of the individual. Whay does one do when authority of state is abused? Dilemma to be faced - disobedience might lead to anarchy, obedience might lead to tyranny. Feared taht if all laws are obeyed without questioning its content and source of legitiamcy, then invitiation to tyranny:

we shall be condemning ourselves to obey the most atrocious decrees and the most illegal authorities.

This was a very real problem faced by many who had lived through the various phases of the French Revolution as had BC. BC's solution to problem of opposing arbitrary government was passive resistance to unjust laws. Individuals had the right to examine laws and to use their own reason to examine content and source of legitimacy of those laws. Resist those laws:

laws like those passed, for example, in 1793... laws which would not only restrain our legitimate liberties and... such of our actions as there is no right to prohibit, but which would also command us to act contrary to the eternal principles of justice and compassion, which man cannot refrain from observing without denying his own nature.

However, BC urges caution in disobeying laws. He fears for the rights of other citizens

whom inconsiderate struggles would deprive of the advantages of the social state.

D. Conclusion

BC's conception of constitutional monarchy is as a means to best achieve a certain end, viz "the end of human association is liberty, order and the happiness of the people." The best means to achieve this end was political organisation in the form of a constitutionally limited monarchy. BC was enormously influential in the Restoration Period 1814-1830 and later. In the July Monarchy 1830-1848 many aspects of the liberal constitutional monarchy which emerged then owed origin to BC's theories of consitutionalism.



X. POLITICAL LIBERALISM II: The Defence of Freedom of Speech by Constant and J and JS Mill

A. Methods of Censorship in 19thC Europe

Details can be found in Anderson and Anderson, Political Institutions and Social Change in Continental Europe, Robert Goldstein, Political Repression in 19thC Europe, and Bramstead and Melhuish, Western Liberalism. Listed in guide page 28.

Great hostility of conservative governments after French Revolution to any expression of democratic and liberal ideas, especially via newspapers, pamphlets and books. Belief that certain ideas had caused French Revolution, therefore concluded that to prevent furhter revolution one had to prevent dangerous ideas from spreading.

Methods used included:

  • direct censorship - prior censorship, punitive or post-publication prosecution.
  • indirect censorship - caution money, stamp taxes (to increase cost so working class could not afford newspapers)

Impact of censorship was to make most newspapers very bland, reduced number of publications, led to imprisonment of many editors and writers. Resistance to censorship took many forms. Legal resistance - use of indirect language (historical parallels), technical evasion (number of pages, irregular appearance). Illegal resia=stance included clandestine publishing (version of Soviet Samizdat press), and smuggling.

Prior censorship largely abolished by 184? Indirect methods continued until the 1870s and 1880s. The most reactionary and conservative states Russia, Austria, Germany retained quite strict censorship until WW1.

Discuss today the ideas of three liberals who opposed censorship during the first half of the 19thC when censorship in force throughout Europe:

  • Benjamin Constant (1767-1830), "On the Liberty of the Press, in Principles of Politics (1815) and "Annexes" of 1818.
  • James Mill (1773-1836), "Liberty of the Press," in the Supplement ot the Encyclopaedia Britannic (1816-1823).
  • John Stuart Mill (1906-1873), "Law of Libel and Liberty of the Press," Westminster Review (1825) and Chapter II, "Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion," in On Liberty (1859).

B. Benjamin Constant on Freedom of the Press

Discussed his background and lif in last lecture.

BC concentrates on the pragmatic and practical problems of censorship. BC did not believe it was a natural right (as say Spencer did) but an important "secondary" right (along with property). Thus his arguments against censorship concentrated on the bad effects censorship had on political stability and economic and social progress.

Arguments against censorship:

  • free press encourages civilisation
  • analogy between "laissez-faire" and "laissez-écrire"
  • free press a substitute for political rights

1. free press encourages civilisation

Begins by associating freedom of the press with the intellectual development of the human race. BC believes that a free press creates or encourages civilisation. Historical examples - the expansion and wealth of Spain in the 15th C before the Inquisition destroyed all freedom of speech; the rise of Prussia since Frederick the Great allowed a relatively free press in mid 18thC. As the economy grows and the size of the population increases printing of information becomes even more important as the only means of communication between nations.

2. analogy between "laissez-faire" and "laissez-écrire"

Draws analogy between free exchange of goods and free exchange of ideas (also used by J and JS Mill). Equates "laissez-faire" and "laissez-écrire." Remember supposed origins of term laissez-faire. Response of a business when asked by senior government official what the state could do to help commerce, said "laissez nous faire." BC answers hypothetical question how could state help spread of civilisation " laissez nous écrire."

The greatest service that authority can render to enlightenment is not to concern themselves with it. Laissez faire is all that is necessary to lead commerce to the highest plane of prosperity: laissez écrire is all that is necessary for the human spirit to reach the highest degree of activity, of wisdom, of justice." (Hoffmann, Principes, p. 141).

3. Free Press substitute for political rights

In countries without democracy or with very limited democracy the freedom of the press is to some extent a substitute for political rights. The enlightened members of society who are excluded from participating in the selection of the government, can still have their opinions and interests recognised by means of a free press.

This argument is a response to the ultra-conservative opponents of the French Revolution and any liberal reform in the post-1815 era, who argued that freedom of the press had caused the Revolution. Example of Bonald who said it was "the diversity of religious and political opinion" which was "the primary cause of the French Revolution." BC rejects this by arguing that it was the financial crisis of the ancien régime which brought on the revolution. This crisis could have been avoided if the governing elite had heeded the warnings which appeared repeatedly in the liberal press in the years priior to the Revolution.

C. James Mill on THE Liberty of the Press

Father of JSM. Biographical details in a previous lecture. From 1802 he was a journalist and editor in London. Leader of the group known as the Philosophic Radicals (Benthamite reformers). Helped found the Political Economy Club (1821). Between 1816 and 1823 wrote a series of outstanding articles in a Supplement to the Encyclopaedia Britannica which summarised the Philosophic Radical position. Most important articles were "Essay on Government" (radical reform program for expanding electorate) and "Liberty of the Press."

1. "Liberty of the Press"

Similar appraoch taken to article on "Government" dealing with democracy - JM starts outs very conservatively but his conclusions are quite radical. Clever rhetorical skills so as not to offend conservative readers. Begins argument with idea that few if any specific laws are needed to regulate the press. Should be seen as just another means by which crimes could be committed. Normal criminal code should apply rather than any special press code. JM believed that any "accurate penal code" (Benthamism) should include specific offences committed by the press in its general provisions against all kinds of criminal activity.

However, JM does admit that the press is particularly suited to crimes against:

  • personal reputation
  • disturbing the action of the government

a. Attacks against Personal Reputation

JM believed in importance of the vague concept of "reputation" and asserted it was the right of every man to have one.

In considering the rights which ought to be established with respect to reputation, one proposition may be assumed; that every man should be considered as having a right to the character he deserves; that is, to be spoken of according to his actions.(p. 4)

Reputationn is the opinion that others have of you. How can you have a right to some one else's opinions?. If a man's repution was damaged in the press JM believed compensation should be paid in money or a recantation published, or by the government granting some mark of respect to the injured party as compensation. (p.8) JM believed there were two ways in which one's reputation could be injured.

  • "by lessening the pecuniary value which he might otherwise have enjoyed"
  • "by lessening the marks of respect and affection which he would otherwise have received" (p. 6)

Example of a soldier accused of cowardice or man of honour accused of lying. The reason JM put so much importance on reputation was because he believed it was a major motive in human action. (Again shows impact of Bentham's theory of pains and pleasures which guide human action).

It is a matter of daily and incontrovertable experience that these are among the most powerful which operate upon the human mind. The soldier rushes upon death and endures all the hardships and toils of his cruel profession, that he may enjoy the admiration and escape the contempt of his fellow men. On what else is founded the greater part of all human pursuits? How few, even of those who toil at the meanest occupations, but exert themselves to have something to show, something to make an impression upon the eyes of those who surroung them? The very subject of the present inquiry derives from this source the whole of its importance. The value of reputation is, indeed, but another name for the value which we attach to the favourable and unfavourable sentiments of our fellow men. (p. 11)

Before we condemn JM for advocating rather narrow, conservative, and class-based views of glory, attention-seeking and peer approval, as the above passage might suggest, we must remeber that JM was clever at masking his radical views. He did this to avoid censorship and to insinuate his ideas amongst a fairly conservative audience. As he did with many of his essays, he ended the section on the importance of protecting one's reputation with exceptions of a most radical nature which altered completely the direction of his earlier arguments. E.G. JM argues that reputation can be manipulated by powerful eiltes (like the clergy and the aristocracy, the "sinister interest" which he refers to in "Government") for their own benefit to the harm of society.

This misdirection of the favourable and unfavourable sentiments of manlind, in other words, this perversion and corruption of their moral sentiments, has, in by far the greatest number of instances, been the work of priests, contriving the means of increasing their influence. In some very important instances, such, for example, as the prejudices of birth, at one time in Europe so powerful as to make men of low birth objects of the greatest contempt, men of elevated birth objects of the highest veneration, the perversion of the moral sentiments is so evidently the work of the aristocratical class, securing to themselves a more easy dominion over the rest of their fellow-creatures. (p. 11)

It is the function of a free press to expose this "perversion" of moral sentiments or reputation by the "sinister interest" of the clergy and aristocratic class and this is a major reason for not restricting the operation of the press. In general, JM argues that the utility of telling the ttruth outweighs the harm done to any individual's reputation. Thus, JM undoes most of what he said previously about the importance of protecting one's reputation. The only statements of the press he would limit are those concerning the private actions of individuals (protected private sphere of individualism) which are not injurious to anybody but which might expose that individual to ridicule of contempt by the public. Also certain facts concerning a person's birth "which ought to be of no importance in the estimate of human worth" (bastardry?). (p. 13). I interpret these exceptions to mean matters of persoanl privacy (personal sexual preferences, one's family background).

b. Press Offences with Respect to the Government

JM uses a similar method as that of above. Begin's conservatively but ends on a radical note. Distinguishes between material which advocates the obstruction of specific government operations (and which should be an offence), and material which advocates in general terms resistance to government policies (which should not be an offence).

c. Obstruction of Specific and Essential Government Operations

Not exactly clear what JM means here. Appears that JM opposed actions which prevented specific government actions of an essential nature such as enforcing and protecting the rights of other individuals, e.g. court proceedings, operations of legislative bodies, administrative bodoes executing its proper duties.

d. Opposition to Government Policies in a General Sense

Material opposing government in a general sense is not an offense. Rather it is necessary if the majority wish to protect themselves from the miscoduct of the ruling few. JM describes "resistance of government... (as) the last security of the many against the misconduct of the few." (p. 14). Assumption that expression of opposing views can and does lead to opposiong action.

This proposition requires to be illustrated. The application of physical force which is here described, and treated as an evil, is clearly distinguishable from that resistance of government which is the last security of the many against the misconduct of the few. This is an application of physical force to obstruct the operations of the government in detail; the proceedings, for example, of a court of justice; the proceedings of the legislative organ, or the proceedings of any of the adminstrative functionaries, in the execution of the duties with which they are charged. This is not that species of resistance which is necessary, in the last resort, to secure the people against the abuse of the powers of government. Yhis last is not a resistance to the operation of government in detail. It is a resistance to all the powers of government at once, either to withdraw them from the hands in which they have hitherto been deposited, or greatly to modify the terms upon which they are held. (p. 14)

Freedom of the press is essential security against misgovernment because it creates discontent among the people (remember this is reason given by conservatives such as Bonald for censoring press).

So true it is, however, that the discontent of the people is the only means of removing the defects of vicious governments, that the freedom of the press, the main instrument of creating discontent, is, in all civilised countries, among all but the advocates of misgovernment, regarded as an indispensable security, and the greatest safeguard of the interests of mankind. (p. 18).

A free press is needed if the people are to informed so they can make an informed choice of rulers.

The very foundation of a good choice is knowledge. The fuller and more perfect the knowledge, the better the chance, where all sinister interest is absent, of a good choice. (p. 19).

Also exposes those who have been chosen for office to censure if they have done wrong.

If any set of men are chosen to wield the powers of government, while the people have not the means of knowing in what manner they discharge their duties, they will have the means of serving themselves at the expense of thepeople; and all the miseries of evil government are the certain consequence. (p. 19)

Striking parallel between objections of early 19thC governments to allow journalists to observe and report on debates in parliament and contemporary debate about televising parliament. Then and now government very reluctant to expose itself to scrutiny, does not wish average person to know how decisions are made, mystique of government torn away if true behaviour of politicians revealed (rowdy behaviour, falling asleep, lack of attendance etc.)

Role of middle class intellectuals was to point out to the mass of the people (via newspapers or television) the "best" choice in the selection of their rulers.

This end would be accomplished most effectively, if those who are sufficiently enlightened would point out to those who are in danger of mistakes, the true conclusions; and showing the weight of evidence to be in their favour, should obtain for them the universal assent. (p. 21).

In order to be able to make this choice there must be complete liberty of the press according to JM. His very optimistic conclusion is:

... that ther is not safety to the people in allowing any body to chose opinions for them; that there are no marks by which it can be decided beforehand, what opinions are true and what are false; that there must, therefore, be equal freedom of declaring all opinions, true and false; and that, when all opinions, true and false, are equally declared, the assent of the greater number, when their interests are not opposed to them, may always be expected to be given to the true. These principles, the foundation of which appears to be impregnable, suffice for the speedy determination of every practical question. (p. 23).

D. John Stuart Mill on the Liberty of Thought and Discussion

JSM wrote "Law of Libel" in 1825 at age of 18 for Westminster Review. Since he wrote it such an early age, before his mental breakdown at 20 when he rejected aspects of his father's austere utilitarian philosophy, this essay is very much Benthamite/Philosophic Radical orthodoxy. Follws closely arguments his father used in Encyclopaedia Britannica article. Interesting to contrast ideas expressed here in 1825 with more mature views in On Liberty in 1859.

JSM believed that the only thing standing between " the horrors of an oriental despotism" was the liberty of the press. There was no third choice between perfect freedom and absolute despotism. Example of JSM's youthful radicalism?

It thus appears, by the closest ratiocination, that there is no medium between perfect freedom of expressing opinions, and absolute despostism. Whenever you invest the rulers of the country with any power to suppress opinions, you invest them with all power; and absolute power of suppressing opinions would amount, if it could be exercised, to a despotism far more perfect than any which has yet existed, because there is no country in which the power of suppressing opinions has ever, in practice, ever been altogether unrestrained. (Williams, p. 149)

Concerning restrictions on the press in England JSM argued that they were

as unfavourable to the liberty of the press, as that of the most despotic government which ever existed; and, consequently, that whatever degree of liberty is enjoyed in this country, exists, not in consequence of the law, but in spite of it. (p. 144).

What is interesing in this essay is the sharpness of JSM's attack on the class interest behind much of the legislation restricting the press. Strong elements of class analysis in JM's essays and this taken up by young JSM. Example:

This assumption (of the incapacity of the people to form correct opinions) is indeed the stronghold of all the disguised or undisguised partisans of despotism. It has been the unremitting, and hitherto, unhappily, the successful endeavour of rulers, to make it be believed that the most dreadful calamities would be the effect of any attempt to obtain securities that their powers should be employed for the benefit, not of themselves, but of the community.

JSM believed it was very much in the government's interest that the people should continue to hold what he calls "slavish opinions" in political matters.

It is the interest of the rulers that the people should hold slavish opinions in politics: it is equally so, that they should hold slavish opinions in religion: all opinions, therefore, whether in politics or religion, which are not slavish, the government, if it dares, will be sure to suppress. It is the interest of rulers that the people should believ all their proceedings to be the best possible: everyhting, therefore, which has a tendancy to make them think otherwise, and among the rest, all strictures, however well deserved, governments will use its most strenuous exertions to prevent. If these endeavours could succeed, if it could suppress all censure, its dominion, to whatever degree it might pillage and oppress the people, would be forever secured. (Williams, p. 148).

Blames "Tory lawyers" one of key supports in repression of free speech in order to protect themselves and their "masters."

... if there are cases in which a truth unpleasant to individuals is of no advance to the public, there are others in which it is of the greatest; and that the truths which it most imports to the public to know, are precisely those which give most annoyance to individuals, whose vices and follies they expose. Tory lawyers, indeed, for whom no doctrine is too extravagant which tend to uphold their power, or that of their employers, have asserted that one man has no right whatever to censure another: that to do so is an act of judicial authority which no individual is entitled to exercise: and that to expose vices and follies, instead of being one of the most important of all services to mankind, is a gross and unwarrantable usurpation of superiority. We hope none but Tory lawyers are hardly enough to profess concurrence in doctrines like these. (p. 161).

A good Australian example of how corrupt politicians can use our very illiberal libel laws to stifle criticism and prevent the public from being informed was the very clever use Jo Bjelke Petersen, when Premier of Queensland, made of the libel laws. Very different sitaution in USA where a strong liberal concept of freedom of speech is enshrined in Bill of Rights. Much more vigorous and informed press. Unlikely that criminal activities of Watergate could have been exposed in this country under our libel laws.

Another example from JSM:

Although, however, the worst enemies of discussion, do not deny, as a general proposition, its tendancy to unveil the truth, there is a certain number of subjects on which, if they are to believed, discussion tends, not to enlighten, but to mislead. Among these are all the subjects on which it is the interest of rulers that the people Should be misled; the political religion of the country, its political institutions, and the conduct and character of its rulers. (p. 151)

JSM welcomed opportunity provided by free press to welcome what he termed the "inordinate reverence of the people for every ruler." Hoped free discussion would give people more critical view of what their rulers were doing.

So strong, and so durable, is the veneration of the people for their rulers: nor has it ever been eradicated by anything short of the most grinding oppression. What epithet, then, can be too severe for the conduct of those who would prevent this feeling from giving way, like all other mischievous feelings, with the progress of civilisation; who would deny a hearing to opinions and arguments which tend to weaken the inordinate reverence of the people for every ruler, good or bad, and give free scope to those which tend to render that blind reverence, and all its consequent miseries, everlasting! (p. 158)

1. Mill's Defense of Free Speech in On Liberty

Very differnt account. A much more mature and philosophical approach with less youthful polemic. In place of his earlier sharp class-based attack on censorship there are 3 main themes:

  • the power to censor is an illegitimate power
  • the relativity of "truth" - "there is no such thing as absolute certainty" (OL, p. 79).
  • the cultural and economic benefits of diversity of opinion (similar to Constant's view that free speech advances civilisation).

Gone is the doctrinaire Philosopic Radicalism of his father.

a. Censorship as Illegitimate Power

Argument based upon principle of individual liberty. Example of the tyranny of the majority over individual.

I deny the right ofthe people to exercise such coercion, either by themselves or by their government. The power itself is illegitimate. The best government has no more title to it than the worst. It is as noxious, or more noxious, when exerted in accordance with public opinion than when in opposition to it. If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more jsutified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. (OL, p. 76).

b. The Relativity of Truth

JSM stresses fallibility of mankind which makes it impossible for some individuals to judge for others what opinions they should hold. Both individuals are fallible in their judgement and traditions are fallible. Therefore one should not blindly follow what is customary or traditional becaue one can be misled.

Ages are no more infallible than individuals - every age having held many opinions which subsequent ages have deemed not only false but absurd; and it is as certain that many opinions, now general, will be rejected by future ages, as it is that many, once general, are rejected by the present. (OL, p. 78).

c. the Cultural Benefits of Diversity of Opinion

Argument from utility - free speech is socially useful. JSM believes that the acquisition of wisdom and knowledge occurs by means of a process of conflict of opposing points of view. Ideally, one listens to opposing points of view, one profits from the good points of one's critics, one strengthens one's own opinions by explaining them to critics and by refuting criticism. Rejects his father's and his own earlier certainty that true opinions must necessarily prevail. JSM describes this view as "one of these pleasant falsehoodws" which "all experience refutes." (p. 89) Truth actually rather weak and can be crushed by oppression. Gives a long list of true beliefs which have been suppressed by pesecution over the centuries, eg. religious reformers who were suppresssed by the Catholic church before the reformation. Concludes that

It is a piece of idel sentimentality that truth, merely as truth, has any inherent power denied to error or prevailing against the dungeon and the state. (OL, p. 90)

The sole hope for truth lies in fact that it might be discovered many times and will perhaps outlive persecution. Case for optimism based upon 3 historical examples of truth surviving persecution: the years following the reformation in the 16thC, the 18thC Enlightenment, the period of German Classicism of Goethe and Fichte.

... during all three the yokes of authority were broken. In each, an old mental despotism had been thrown off, and no new one had yet taken its place. (p. 96)

JSM believed intellectual opposition creates "living belief" in contrast to "dead belief." When opposing views are suppressed the prevailing views are held with no imagination, passion or conviction. Complacency set ins and beliefs gradually ossify to become "dead beliefs." E.g. most modern believers in Christianity. Dangerous for to development of knowledge when

Both teachers and learners go to sleep at the post as soon as there is no enemy in the field. (OL, p. 105)

Opposing beliefs strengthen one's own views by challenging one to defend them.

So important an aid to the intelligient and living apprehension of a truth as is afforded by the necessity of explaining it to, or defending it against, opponents. (OL, p. 108)

Since every individual's truth is partial and incomplete we need diversity of belief in order to supply the missing components of truth in our own views. We can learn from "these suppressed and neglected truths" (p. 108) and the "unpopular truth" (109) of dissidents and heretics.

... the nonconforming opinion is needed to supply the remainder of the truths of which the received doctrine embodies only a part. (108)

JSM concludes that truth, especially in politics, is a matter of "reconciling and combining opposities" which need to fight against each other in a situation of "equal freedom" in order that a more complete and useful truth might emerge. (p. 110).



XI. LIMITED GOVERNMENT: Wilhelm von Humboldt's Strict Limited Government Philosophy

A. Summary

This lecture: a classic formulation of the strict limited government position by Wilhelm von Humboldt. State should only see to the "security" of the individual. All acts to ensure the "positive welfare" of individuals is illegitimate.

Friday lecture: examine those radical anti-state liberals who argued that even ensuring the security of individuals with a state monopoly of force was too much. Right of individuals to withdraw/secede from the state (Spencer, Dunoyer, Molinari in later life), or to seek protection from competitively supplied free market police (Molinari).

B. Introduction

Just as we can indentify three different approaches of 19thC liberals to the theory of laissez-faire (extreme, moderate and weak) on the related issue of, what should the functions of government in general be?, we can see different schools of thought emerging.

  • the Radical Anti-Statists. At one extreme are the radical anti-statists whose hostility to the state was so intense that they could also be classified as a kind of anarchism. Include the early Herbert Spencer, Thomas Hodgskin, Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer, Gustave de Molinari, Auberon Herbert.
  • The Strict Limited Government Advocates. Believed that governments only just function was the protection of property and individual liberty by the courts, the police and the army. Include Wilhelm von Humboldt, Jean-Baptiste Say, James Mill, Richard Cobden.
  • The Moderate Limited Government Advocates, who generally supported laissez-faire policies in theory but who in practice found many exceptions to it. Include most of the school of political economists, especially John Stuart Mill.
  • The socalled "New Liberals" who, under the influence of JSM, redefined the concept of freedom from negative (free from the state) to positive (free through the state) (remember Isaiah Berlin's article). To them freedom was impossible to achieve without state intervention to create the conditions necessary for individuals to lead "a civilised existence." To them freedom was no longer the absence of coercion but a certain minimum level of existence guaranteed by the state. This entailed a welfare state. Included Green and Hobhouse.

These 4 groups are in rough chronological order and reflect the changing fortunes of liberalism during the 19thC.

  • Period of strict limited government 1815-1850. Prepared the ground for the period of deregulation, especially in free trade, between 1840s to 1870s.
  • The radical anti-statists also most active in period 1815-1850. Carried away with enthusiasm and optimism of liberal future utopia.
  • Moderate Limited Government drew inspiration from JSM's Principles of Political Economy which was first published 1848 and again in 1852, 1857, 1862, 1865, 187? This period between 1850 coincided with the gradual expansion of government aactivity in non-trade areas such as social reform, labour, manufacturing.
  • New Liberalism emerged out of influnce of Green at Oxford in 1860s. Influenced generation of liberals who came to power in liberal government of 1905-1914 when large number of welfare measures first introduced in Britain. End of 19thC liberal idea of limited government.

Already discussed JSM's view of weak laissez-faire. This gives good idea of what the moderate limited government advocates and New Liberals think about general role of government in society. Thus will not discuss them in lecture. Refer you to reading in guide (see also topic on socialism).

Discuss in next two lectures:

  • strict limited government position. Best and one of earliest representatives is Wilhelm von Humboldt. Already discussed his individualist thought in earlier lecture.
  • the little known radical liberal anti-statists, or liberal anarchists as sometimes known. Dunoyer, Spencer, Molinari.

C. The Strict Limited Government Position: Wilhelm von Humboldt

One of the best exponents of this view is Prussian government official and reformer Wilhelm von Humboldt. Book The Limits of State Action was written in 1791-2 (during liberal phase of French Revolution) but not fully published until after his death. Appeared in 185? Overall position was that he recognised a role for the state in security matters or what he called "negative welfare" (Chapter IV "Of the Solicitude of the State for the negative welfare of the citizen - For his Security") but not "positive welfare" or what we would call just welfare today (chapter III "Of the Solicitude of the State for the Positive Welfare of the Citizen"). WvH's basic principle which defines very clearly the strict limited government position is:

Keeping in view the conclusions arrived at in the last chapter (chapter II "Of the Individual Man, and the Highest Ends of his Existence"), we might embody in a general formula our idea of State agency when restricted to its proper limits, and define its objects as all that a government could accomplish for the common weal, without departing from the principle just established (of individual liberty); while, from this position, we could proceed to derive the still stricter limitation, that any State interference in private affairs, where there is no immediate reference to violence done to individual rights, should be absolutely condemned. (p. 22)

Any departure from this sphere of activity then becomes an act of "positive welfare" for the individual and is not allowed according to WvH. The following discussion concerns what the state should not do. Defines "positive welfare" as follows:

I am speaking here, then, of the entire efforts of the State to raise the positive welfare of the nation; of all solicitude for the population of the country, and the substistance of its inhabitants, whether shown directly in such institutions as poor laws, or indirectly, in the encouragement of agriculture, industry and commerce; of all regualtions relative to finance and currency, imports and exports, etc. (in so far as these have positive welfare in view); finally, of all measures employed to remedy or to prevent natural devastations, and, in short, of every political institution designed to preserve or augment the physical welfare of the nation...
Now all such institutions, I maintain, have harmful consequences, and are irreconcilable with a true system of polity; a system conceived in the light of the highest aspirations yet in no way incompatible with human nature. (p. 23)

1. What the State Should Not Do

WvH gives reasons why the state should not go beyond protecting the security of individuals and to enter area of positive welfare.

  • "spirit of governing" harms individuality and produces uniformity
  • weakens vitality of nation
  • legislation ignores individual differences
  • state activity never remains limited for long - vested interest of state employees leads to expansion of state activities
  • other objections to specific state activity

a. "Spirit of Governing" produces Uniformity

Believes the "spirit of governing" is harmful to individuality and "invariably produces national uniformity" (p. 23). Variety and diversity is lost because of state intervention.

The very variety arising from the union of numbers of individuals is the highest good which social life can confer, and this variety is undoubtedly lost in proportion to the degree of State interference. (pp. 23-4)

Undue activity of the state "tends to fetter the free play of individual energies" (p. 24). Argues that this process of creating uniformity and destroying variety is one of the purposes of the state in order to be able to rule more easily. States "desire comfort, ease, tranquility" and see the expression of individuality as a threat to order (p. 24). Easier to rule "machines" (p. 24) than individuals.

b. "Spirit of Governing" weakens Vitality of Nation

Spirit of governing weakens vitality of the nation by making individuals become accustomed to looking to the State for "instruction, guidance and assistance from without" rather than to "rely upon their own expedients" (p. 25). WvH believes this dependence on the state leads to a weakening of the moral character of individuals. According to his theory of individual development, an individual cannot grow to reach their full potential unless improvement and change is "internally produced by its own spontaneous action" (p. 24). Looking to the state to make us better prevents this process of individual self-improvement from taking place because it replaces the "internal" source of improvement with an "externally imposed" one. Analogy of a seed which is received from outside but which blossoms only from internal cultivation:

Now, whatever man receives externally, is only like the seed. It is his own active energy alone that can turn the most promising seed into a full and precious blessing for himself. It is beneficial only to the extent that it is full of vital power and essentially individual. The highest ideal, therefore, of the co-existence of human beings, seems to me to consist in a union in which each strives to develop himself from his own inmost nature, and for his own sake. (p. 19)

State activity not only harmful to individual development but also to others. The expectation that the state will care for others's welfare leads to individuals abandoning their own efforts at charity towards the less well off.

Further, the pernicious influence of such a positive policy is no less evident in the behaviour of the citizens to each other. As each individual abandons himself to the solicitous aid of the State, so, and still more, he abandons to it the fate of his fellow-citizens. This weakens sympathy and renders mutual assistance inactive: or, at least, the reciprocal interchange of services and benefits will be most likely to flourish at its liveliest, where the feeling is most acute that such assistance is the only ting to rely upon... (p. 26)

This is the "self-help" argument which became very popular in Victorian Britain. See Samuel Smiles' book Self-Help, with Illustrations of Conduct and Perserverance (1859), ed. Sir Keith Joseph (Penguin, 1986). SS (1812-1904) was a journalist, biographer of successful British industrialists, and propandist of the Manchester school of laissez-faire free trade economics. Following quote from opening chapter "Self-Help: National and Individual":

'Heaven helps those who help themselves' is a well-tried maxim, embodying in a small compass the results of vast human experience. The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual; and, exhibited in the lives of many, it constitutes the true source of national vigour and strength. Help from without is often enfeebling in its effect, but from within invariably invigorates. Whatever is done for men or classes, to a certain extent takes away the stimulus and necessity of doing for themselves; and where men are subjected to over-guidance and over-government, the inevitable tendency is to render them comparatively helpless.
Even the best institutions can give man no active help. Perhaps the most they can do is leave him free to develop himself and improve his individual condition. But in all times men have been prone to believe that their happiness and well-being wwere to be secured by means of institutions rather than by their own conduct. Hence the value of legislation as an agent in human advancement has usually been much overestimated. (p. 19)

c. Legislation ignores Individual Differences

WvH fears that, since the state must operate on mankind as a collective mass, it will produce legislation which will not be able to take individual differences into account. Example of the laws concerning marriage. Typical of many private "contractural" relations with which the state should not interfere:

... the results of marriage are as various as the characters of thebpersons concerned, and that, as it is a union so closely related to the very nature of the respective individuals, it must have the most harmful consequences when the state attemtps to regulate it by law, or through the force of its institutions to make it rest on anything but simple inclination.... But the radical error of such a policy appears to be, that the law commands, whereas such a relation cannot mould itself according to external arrangements, but depends wholly on inclination; and whenever coercion or guidance come into collision with inclination, they divert it still further fromthe proper path. Wherefore it appears to me that the State should not only loosen the bonds in this instance, but, if I may apply the principles stated above (now that I am not speaking of matrimony in general, but of one of the many injurious consequences arising from restrictive State institutions, which are in this instance especially noticeable), that it should entirely withdraw its active care from the institution of matrimony, and both generally and in its particular variations, should rather leave it wholly to the free choice of the individuals, and the various contracts they may enter into. (p. 31)

d. State Activity never Remains Limited for Long

LIke many liberals WvH was very suspicious that, even if quite limited in what it was permitted to do, the state would not stay limited to those functions. Idea that there is a dynamic of expansion in the institution of the state which tends to make it increase its size and number of duties. Those who work for the State become totally dependent on it and eventually come to believe they can improve the welfare of others by further interventions, thus leading to a gradual and inevitable expansion of state activities, cost, and employment.

New careers, moreover, are introduced by the needs of State business, and these render the servants of the State more dependent on the governing classes of the community, in whose pay they are, than on the nation in general... When one is thus accustomed to the transaction of State affairs, men more and more lose sight of the essential object, and concentrate on mere form; they thereupon attempt new improvements, perhaps good in intention, but without sufficient adaptation to the required end; and the harmful effect of these necessitates new forms, new complications, and often new restrictions, and thereby creates new departments, which require for their efficient supervision a vast increase in functionaries. Hence it arises that in most states from decade to decade the number of public officials and the extent of registration increase, while the liberty of the subject proportionately declines. (. p. 34)

Furthermore, it takes first-rate individuals away from productive employment and cramps the development of their own personalities.

Now, by far the greater portion of these (persons who work for the state) have to do with the mere symbols and formulas of things; and thus, not only are men of first-rate capacity withdrawn from anything which gives scope for thinking, and useful hands are diverted from real work, but their intellectual powers themselves suffer from this partly empty, partly narrow employment. (p. 34)

e. other objections to specific state activity

WvH also objects to a number of other specific activities of the state including education, religion, sumptuary laws/luxury taxes, concerning victimless crimes.

  • rejects "all systems of national education, governed as they are by the spirit of regulation, (which) impose on nature a specific civic form" (p. 52). Sees state education as a form of indoctrination.
  • Religion had traditionally been "a guiding principle and essential pillar of the state" (p. 55) was now advocated for reasons of internal security, morality and social control. WvH rejects any state propagation of a particular form of religion. Does acept the duty of the state to diffuse a "spirit of religiousness" but is very suspicious of even this.
  • Rejects all sumptuary laws (luxury taxes and restrictions intended to prevent individuals from harming themselves or wasting their money. Modern form taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, luxury cars etc.) Opposes all laws dealing with morality and moral improvement of individuals. WvH believes that individual moral improvement must come from within the individual, not from some outside force such as the state.. Fears state paternalism would create "a multitude of well cared for slaves" (p. 79).
  • Argues that victimless crimes are not true crimes and should not be prohibited or restricted. Crime exists only when another person's rights are violated. With so-called victimless crimes the actor, and not someone esle, is "victim." Examples of "carnal crimes" (homsexuality, prostitution), attempted suice, and euthenasia should not be punished.
For as the State must pursue no other end than the security of its subjects, it may impose restrictiopns only on actions which run counter to this ultimate object... according to the fundamental principles of justice... to punish actions... which relate to the agent only, or done with the consent of the person who is affected by them, is forbidden by the same principles which do not permit their limitation; and hence none of the so-called carnal crimes (rape excepted), whether creating offence or not, attempted suicide, etc. ought to be punished, and even taking away a man's life with his own consent... (p. 107)

Only exception to all these objections of state interference in individual's private affairs are those who have notyet reached the age of maturity, those with mental handicaps, all infants. Every one else should not be interfered with or regulated by government.

2. What Should the State Do

According to WvH, the sole function of the state should be restrain the impulse in some individuals to transgress their proper limits and to violate the rights of others.

If I come now to the ultimate result of the whole argument... that the State is to abstain from all solicitude for the positive welfare of the citizens, and not to proceed a step further than is necessary for their mutaul security and protection against foreign enemies; for with no other object should it impose restrictions on freedom. (p. 37)

Does not believe that nature will punish wrong-doers, therefore there is a need for some ultimate, absolute authority - the judicial authority - to do this. Without this judicial authority, WvH fears taht individuals would take law into their own hands and axact revenge, not justice for the wrongs done to them. Thus the state is viewed by him as the mechanism which can impose penalties without there being any further revenge.

... human disputes are utterly different, and make absolutely necessary at all times the existence of some such upreme power. For in these dissensions one conlfict springs immediately from another. Wrong begets revenge; and revenge is a new wrong. And hence it becomes necessary to look to some species of revenge which does not admit of any further revenge - that is the punishment inflicted by the State - or for a settlement of the controversy which the parties are obliged to accept, namely, a judicial decision. (p. 42)

WvH is forced to explain why, after all the reasons he had previously given for objecting to state activity, he now wants to accept a state monopoly in this area of activity and thus deny individuals the right to protect themselves or assocaite with others to do it for them. The most important reason WvH gives is that he thinks security is the only thing which individuals cannot obtain for themselves by their own unaided efforts.

Whilst, therefore, I have hitherto found reasons for denying the competence of the State in many important matters, because the nation can do them equally well and without incurring the evils which flow from State interference, I must for similar reasons direct it to security, as the only thing which the individual cannot obtain for himself and by his own unaided efforts. I would therefore lay down as the first positive principle... that the maintenaince of security, both against the attacks of foreign enemies and internal dissensions constitutes the true and proper concern of the State. (p. 43)

This argument, shared by all liberals who believed in the limited state, was rejected by the liberal anarchists like Molinari because they did not believe that security is unique in anyway as WvH asserted. It should be a business just like any other in the free market. It is a weak argument to use because few, if any, goods or services in a modern economy could be "obtained by the individual for himself and by his unaided efforts." The division of labour meant that most goods were produced by a multitude of specialists each doing a small task on raw materials which had come from all corners of the globe via international trade. They were to argue, as we will see in the next lecture, that according to this view, if an individual could not obtain any product, a shoe say, "for himself and by his unaided efforts," then should the state step in to provide it as a government monopoly. Of course, as liberals, they rejected this as absurd. Molinari saw the state's monoply of police and defence as just another monopoly which was just as harmful, perhaps even more so, than any other and which should be opposed for the same liberal reasons.



XII. Liberal Anarchism: Charles Dunoyer, Herbert Spencer, Gustave de Molinari

A. Summary

Last lecture discussed classic formulation of the strict limited government view - Wilhelm von Humboldt's belief that government only justified in providing security of individual (liberty and property) but not to look after "positive welfare" of the citizen. That was best left to individuals to provide themselves. Security different from every other good or service in market since it could not provided by individual unaided, hence needed state to provide it.

This lecture examine more radical anti-state liberals who rejected argument that security unique and had to be provided by state. Herbert Spencer believed when state becomes aggressor individual had right to seek security elsewhere. Right to secede or withdraw, not pay taxes. Gustave de Molinari's idea that security could be provided competitively by private security companies. Just like any other business. Principle of competition was an economic law which was universally valid

B. Introduction

The strict limited government advocates and the liberal anarchists shared much in common. They believed in common that:

  • the individual was the best judge of their own interests
  • natural laws governed the operation of society and led to a harmonious (i.e. spontaneous) order. Activity of government "disturbed" this harmony (Bastiat's term) and led to creation of "aritificial" order (Bastiat and Hodgskin). Economic laws as valid as physical law of gravitation (GdM)
  • they were hostile to the state as they viewed it as a coercive institution which infringed individual rights to liberty by restricting individual activity, and property rights by taxing.

Where the strict limited government advocates and liberal anarchists parted company was the following point:

  • that the state was a necessary evil which was required to prevent the violation of individual and property rights by theft, fraud, invasion, etc. (the "judicial power" of WvH). HS Social Statics, pp. 189, 186

The strict limited government advocates reluctantly accepted this necessity but still retained considerable suspicion towards the state. WvH's belief that state has internal dynamic which leads it to expand constantly also applies to "judicial authority" unless garded against by liberals.

The radical anti-state liberals shared the first 3 principles but rejected number 4 - if the state was evil then it was not necessary. Argued that voluntary free market associations could provide security for individuals from attack and other transgressions against their lives and property. I describe this as the "anarchist impulse" within liberal and individualist political theory. Surfaces repeatedly from mid-18thC to the present and includes:

  • Edmund Burke, A Vindication of Natural Society, or a View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind from every Species of Artificial Society (1756). Written by a young Burke, 27 years old. Some scholars dismiss it as satire. Some take it as a serious piece of political philosophy.
  • William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Modern Morals and Happiness (1793). Inspiration for both communist and individualist/liberal anarchism. Constant influenced by it and attempted to translate it into French soon after it appeared.
  • Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Beitrag zur Berichtigung der Urteile des Publikums über der französische Revolution (1793). Radical individualist defense of the French Revolution before Fichte became nationalist and less liberal.
  • Charles Dunoyer, L'industrie et la morale considérées dans leur rapport avec liberté (1825). Radical French individualist liberal.
  • Thomas Hodgskin, The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted (1832).
  • Gustave de Molinari, "De la production de la sécurité," Journal des économistes (1849).
  • Herbert Spencer, Chapter XIX "The Right to Ignore the State," in Social Statics (1851)

This suggests that the boundaries separating individualism, liberalism, and anarchism are easily breached. Recall my suggested method of depicting political ideologies. Communist left vs fascist right; anti-authority left vs statist right; two-dimensional graph showing political and economic liberty.

Aim of this lecture to examine 4 examples of radical anti-statist liberals - Wilhelm von Humboldt (although usually should be classified as strict limited government advocate, at times verged into next category in his hostility to state), Charles Dunoyer, Gustave de Molinari, and Herbert Spencer.

C. Near Anarchist Liberals: Wilhelm von Humboldt, Charles Dunoyer, Thomas Hodgskin, Herbert Spencer

Many liberals were so suspicious of the the state that, although in quieter moments they were believers in a definite though limited role for the state, their hostility pushed them to a near anarchist position. At other occasions they dreamed of a fully liberal state sometime in the future, a liberal utopia if you will, when all relations between individuals would be truly voluntary exchanges on the free market, where no violence is done towards either property or person, and thus where the state as the protector of property no longer has a function to perform.

1. Wilhelm von Humboldt

Good example of this is WvH whom I categorised as classical proponent of strict limited government position (state only provide security, no "positive welfare" for individuals). His image of a liberal utopia can be found on p. 36-37. Argues for a right of withdrawal from the state by any individual not happy with the service of security provided by it. Like Spencer, WvH believes in stopping non-violent seccession state itself would become the aggressor.

Those whose security is to be preserved are, on the one hand, all the citizens, in perfect legal equality, and, on the other, the State itself. The extent of this latter object, or the security of the State, is determined by the extent of the rights assigned to it, and, through these, by the nature and extent of its aims. As I have argued, it may not demand security for anything except the power entrusted to its hands, and the resources allotted to it. Further, it should not, with a view to this security, restrict the citizen when, without violating any actual right (and hence, with the understanding that he is not bound to the State by any personal or temporary relation, as, for instance, in time of war), he wishes to withdraw himself or his property from the political community. For the State association is merely a subordinate means, to which man, the true end, is not to be sacrificed... (p. 84)

2. Thomas Hodgskin

In The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted (1832) TH proved what B had feared in his "Anarchical Fallacies" (appropriateness of title in this context) by using natural law to defend property and individual liberty in such a way as to challenge the very existence of the state. In the opening few pages TH shows that he is looking forward to a liberal future in which all laws will have been repealed, all titles and distinctions of an "artificial" (i.e. state-created) nature will have been abolished, and when society will prosper without the lawmaker and the taxgatherer (i.e. will live only by producing and exchanging what one has produced on the free market. Speaking of himself in the third person: Q p. i-ii.

By a deduction from principles not here enunciated, the author has satisfied himself that all lawmaking, except gradually and quietly to repeal all existing laws, is arrant humbug. Such being his well weighed and long cherished conviction, he cannot possibly feel any respect for titles, dignities, offices, individuals, or acts which have and can have no other possible claim to approbation, than the supposition that legislation and its consequences are of vital importance to the welfare of society. He mentions this circumstance, to account for some, perhaps, strong expressions and peculiar opinions, while he hopes by demonstrating, that property is not regulated and determined by human laws, to prepare the mind of the reader to admit the general principle, that society can exist and prosper without the lawmaker, and consequently without the taxgatherer. He is quite aware that such a conclusion, generally adopted, must be the work of time, and of a mightier artist than ever wrote with a pen, but he is not without hope, that the present and his meditated work (a future larger work on criminal law), should he find leisure and encouragement to undertake the publication, may contribute to what he thinks so desirable a result.

3. Charles Dunoyer (1786-1862)

Leading French liberal journalist, historian, sociologist, political economist and jurist. Active against Napoleon and restored Bourbon monarchy. Involved in several notorious censorship trials during restoration. Journal Le Censeur closed down, CD imprisoned. CD had a series of political posts in the more liberal July Monarchy and was eventually elected to the Chamber of Deputies. Active liberal political economist.

In L'industrie et morale Dunoyer concluded that the associations created for specific political purposes would gradually give up their monopolistic and coercive attributes and assume the structure and behaviour of private market associations. Like any other corporation or voluntary association, government associations would have to sell their products on a voluntary basis to customers who could not be coerced into purchasing the product. Their special powers of coercively taxing their customers to cover costs and their monopoly powers, which prevented customers seeking an alternative supply of the good or service, would no longer exist as all associations in the industrial era would be competitive. The state in the industrial mode of production would be nothing more than a voluntary association like any other, "une compagnie commerciale" or "une entreprise d'industrie" like thousands of others, but charged by the public only with the responsibility of maintaining peace and order. It would not be aggressive, it would not be the private preserve of a particular social class. Those who were in its employ could not behave like political masters. They could not exercise domination over others and could not use taxes as a form of private tribute. In other words, although the commercial company would be charged with maintaining public order, it would have exactly the same rights which every other citizen or private voluntary association has. It would only have the right to act against criminals who had committed acts against private property and public order. The life, liberty and property of citizens who have not acted in a criminal manner towards their fellows must not ever be interfered with by the officers of the company. In other words, Dunoyer believes that the public does not cede any of its rights concerning its liberty or property to the company in exchange for protection. It makes no compact with the state, as the Lockean tradition would have it, to give up some of its rights for public security.

The industrial state would behave differently to other states in previous modes of production in that it would no longer be an avenue for the ambitious to pursue a career. Strict controls on any increase in taxes or in the number of personnel would be placed upon it by a public jealous of its liberties. Only the barest minimum of money and man-power would be granted to the state to carry out its very limited functions and even this nominal amount of capital would be regretted. Resources would be reluctantly diverted from productive industrial use because of the unfortunate necessity to protect life and property from attack by those few unscrupulous individuals who lacked productive employment or who maintained pre-industrial morals. Much like Herbert Spencer, Dunoyer expected that as industrial morals became more widespread and as the prosperity of the industrial mode of production became increasingly apparent to all, then even this modest size of the state could be further decreased.

a. The Withering Away of the State, or the Municipalisation of the World

What then can we conclude about Dunoyer's attitude concerning the role of the state in the future industrial society? There are three possibilities all of which he advocated at various places in L'Industrie et la morale - the liberal anarchist position where the state gradually withers away to the point where only voluntary private associations of free individuals existed; a more liberal constitutionalist position of a severely limited state whose only functions would be the protection of individual liberty and property by the police and armed forces; and a position part way between free market anarchism and limited government where nation states are broken up and the world is "municipalised" into small communities based upon economic and cultural ties.

Occasionally Dunoyer seems to go as far as Molinari was to in 1849 with his startling proposal to view the defense and police functions of the state as just another business venture which would charge for its services to individual customers. His use of the description of the state as only "une compagnie commerciale" or "une enterprise d'industrie" seems to support this interpretation but, like Spencer, he offers no detailed plan as to how commercial associations could provide the essential functions of law and order and national defence without collapsing into chaos. On the other hand, there are times when Dunoyer appears more conventional in his advocacy of a strictly limited state, limited to protecting individuals and their property from the aggression of others. If Dunoyer is a defender of the limited state he is so reluctantly, because he is aware of the state's inner momentum to always expand its sphere of operation, to increase the burden of its taxes and charges, to increase the number of those who are employed by it, and to favour certain individuals and even entire industries with special legal and economic privileges. What little power and funding Dunoyer might grant the state is done so very reluctantly and very cautiously.

Perhaps a more accurate interpretation of Dunoyer's theory of the rôle of the state in a future industrial society lies somewhere between these two views. While not a consistent liberal anarchist, as say Molinari, he also should not be seen as just another defender of the traditional "night-watchman" state which, though small, still had a monopoly of political power in a given geographical area. Dunoyer's solution to the problem of the state was to so radically decentralise its power that the entire world would be literally "municipalised." He was so convinced of the benefits of small-scale voluntary associations and the evils of political society that he thought that industry would gradually dissolve most large-scale political associations in a process which would result in what one might call the "municipalisation of the world." What Dunoyer meant by municipalisation was the gradual break up of the nation state into more logical economic units which were united cooperatively by cultural and economic exchanges. He thought there was no logical reason why ten, twenty or thirty million people should be forced to associate within the boundaries of a nation state. Rather, Dunoyer predicted that borders would gradually become invisible and towns and cities hitherto separated by artificial barriers would form their own economic and cultural units voluntarily. This vision of a decentralised industrial world more closely approximated the communitarian anarchism of Gustave de Molinari in his later writings, once he had abandoned his more extreme free market anarchism of private police and defense companies. Molinari later modified his views, under the double pressure of isolation and criticism by his liberal colleagues, to a position in which competition would not be between private companies within a city or town for protection services, but between proprietary communities competing for citizens. Dunoyer explained in a lengthy footnote towards the end of chapter nine of L'Industrie et la morale that his model nation, the United States of America, had been forced into a large-scale political union because of the threat posed by the "dominating spirit" of the various European governments. Without the external threat of hostile European states the United States of America, he thought, would have more naturally evolved into a less structured and centralised political system, more in keeping with his own hopes for a future purely industrial society, rather than a clumsy federation.

There is no force within industry pushing it form such vaste groups of people. There is no business enterprise which demands the union of 10, 20 or 30 million individuals. It is the spirit of domination which has formed these monstrous aggregations of people, or has made them necessary. It is the spirit of industry which will dissolve them and one of industry's last, greatest and most salutary effects should be to "municipalise the world." Under its influence people will begin to govern themselves more naturally. One will no longer see united under the same domination 20 different, foreign nations, sometimes scattered to the four corners of the globe or even more separated by different languages and customs. Rather, different people will come together and associate with each other according to their own impulses and following their own self-interest. Although each people will be composed of homogeneous elements, they will be much less inclined to oppose their neighbous. Having now no reason to fear each other or to remain isolated from each other, they will no longer be so strongly attrracted to their own political centre, nor will they be so keen to avoid contact with their neighbours. Their frontiers will cease to be bristling with fortresses and they will no longer need to have a protective ring of two or three layers of customs officals and soldiers. Common interests will tend to unite some people into a larger grouping: a shared common language, common customs, or the influence of a large capital city from which a large number of people draw their ideas, their laws, their fashion. Nevertheless, some interests will continue to divide different people without necessarily leading to a feeling of enmity between them. I predict that in each country the inhabitants closest to the border with another country will eventaully have more to do with their foreign neighbours than with their compatriots in a distant corner of their own country. Thus there will be a constant fusion of the inhabitants of one country with those of another. Each person will use their capital and conduct their affairs whereever they believe the greatest opportunity may lie. By this means the same level of industrial development will soon reach all people, the same ideas will circulate in all countries, differences in custom and language will gradually disappear. At the same time, a large number of places will acquire greater importance and will feel much less need to remain bound to their capital city. They will become capital cities in their own right and thus centres of economic and cultural activity will multiply. The final result will be that the largest countries will be inhabited by a single people, made up of an infinite number of uniform groupings, between which will be established the most complex, most peaceful, and most profitable relations, without any confusion and without any violence.

Using the experience of the United States as an historical case study and his theory of industrialism as a guide for the future evolution of modern society, Dunoyer endeavoured to predict what his ideal industrial society of the future might be like. Since the "spirit of domination" had created vaste nation states or "agrégations monstreuses," the spirit of industry would inevitably break them down into smaller communities in a process of "municipalisation" of the entire world. Associations among people would now follow the "natural" inclination encouraged by language, religion, shared political values, or trade and armed frontiers would dissolve as individuals moved about the globe trading with each other. Without the need to enforce trading monopolies and protect privileged political classes, there would no longer be any need for customs officials or soldiers. Capital, goods and people would then be free to travel wherever they wanted. By a process of the fusion of people brought together by the free market and a process of the breakup of the centralised nation state, the world would now approach the ideal of myriads of trading communities bound together only by economic self-interest and culture and no longer by military, political or religious compulsion.

4. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)

a. Biography

Born into a lower middle class home in Derby. Dissenting religious background. Influenced by his uncle Rev. Thomas Spencer who was a radical nonconformist minister who supported the disestablishment of the Anglican Church, reform of the franchise, and repeal of the corn laws. Trained as railway engineer before becoming journalist for the Economist. Then private scholar. Became famous as sociologist and arch-opponent of socialism in late 19thC.

b. Spencer's Anti-Statism

At first sight HS appears to be a strict limited government advocate. Government should be strictly limited to protecting property and individual liberty. Anything beyond this HS called "overlegislation" (The Man versus the State (1884) originally published in 1853 in Westminster Review). Believed that all social ills were the result of the government not doing what it should do (the equal protection of individual property rights), and the government engaging in "overlegislation". Similar to Bastiat's explanation of "disturbing factors." HS's view in 1843:

We conceive that the great family of ills that have been for so long preying on the national prosperity... are all the offspring of one primary, and hitherto almost unsuspected evil - overlegislation... We can discover no remedy for our social maladies but a stringent regulation which shall confine our governors to the performance of their primitive duty - the protection of person and property. (Wiltshire, p. 139)

HS presents a typical "strict limited government" view in chapters "The Duty of the State" and "The Limit of State Duty" in Social Statics (1851). Objected to following:

  • establishment of the Anglican Church
  • government control of banking - Peel's act of 1844 ending free baking experiment.
  • Corn Laws
  • Trade union interference in labour market
  • public health legislation. Thought it would lead to growth of a new vested interest, the medical bureaucracy, the "genteel unemployed" would get sinecures.
  • Poor relief
  • state education. Believed it would create uniformity, the veneration of authority, had totalitatian implications, violated property rights of taxpayers. (Compare HS with WvH's very similar views) (pp. 247-9 of SS)

Even though HS argues that the state must exercise police and defence functions, he is very suspicious of this power. His suspicions oblige him to ask the fundamental question whether the state should in fact have this vital function at all. In his evolutionary schema of social and economic evolution HS believed that there would come a time when "men's savageness and dishonesty" would be replaced with "universal uprightness" and respect for the rights of person and property of others. In this future state of society there would no longer be any need for the state and thus individuals could dispense with this necessary evil. The anarchist implications of his argument lead HS to what he calls "a somewhat startling conclusion." (Compare HS from SS p. 237 with WvH p. 84.)

By dispersing that haze of political superstition through which the state and its appendages loom so large, the foregoing considerations suggest a somewhat startling question. For if, when men's savageness and dishonesty render the administration of justice most necessary, it is impossible; if it becomes possible only in proportion as men themselves become just; and if that same universal uprightness which permits the administration of justice to become perfect also makes it needless, as it evidently must, then we may naturally ask: Can the state really administer justice to all? Does it, looking at society as a whole, secure to the people any fuller enjoyment of their rights than they would have without it? May we not conclude that it takes away from men's liberties in one direction as much as it gives in another? Is it not a mere dead mechanism worked by a nation's moral sense, neither adding to, nor deducting from the force of that moral sense, and consequently unable to alter the sum total of its effects?
A strange idea this, some will think: and so at first sight it seems. We have the habit of regarding government in its protective character and forgetting its aggressive one that to ask whether the rights it secures are not about balanced by the rights it violates seems almost laughable. Nevertheless, we shall find that on drawing up a debtor and creditor account the absurdity of the doubt disappears. (SS, pp. 237-8)

HS asks what happens if a number of citizens decide that the costs of being ruled by a particular state eventually outweigh the benefits, what if they decide that the state has become "an aggressor instead of a protector'? (p. 247). HS concludes that they have they right to "secede" from the state in order to either go without state protection or to seek to provide it by some other means. HS comes to this conclusion because he views the strict limited state as "a voluntary mutual protection association" or alternatively as a "joint-stock protection society." (or "mutual safety confederation" p. 185). Thus, if the state iteself becomes an aggressor, or if for any other reason a citizen does not believe they are getting value for money from the state, they have the right to go elsewhere for protection. If the state is like a "joint-stock protection society" then, like any other share holder who is unhappy with the performance of the company in which they own shares, they can sell up and invest elsewhere.

Quote p. 247.

Now, when rightly ordered, the conditions on which this voluntary association offers its services must be such as enable it to afford the greatest amount of protection possible. If otherwise - if it insists on nonessential conditions which prevent some men from accepting its services, or on conditions which unnecessarily compromise the liberty of those men who do accept its services - it manifestly fails to that extent in performing its function... So long as our joint-stock protection society confines itself to guaranteeing the rights of its members, it is pretty certain to be co-extensive with the nation; for while such an organisation is needed at all, most men will sacrifice something to secure its guardianship. But let an additional duty be assigned to it, and there will immediately arise more or less a schism. The dissenting minority, may in such case consist of two parties: the one comprising those who have so great a repugnance to the contemplated arrangement as to resolve upon seceding rather than to consent to it, and a larger party consisting of those who grumble at the imposition of additional charges of the doing of what they do not wish to be done but who think well to submit rather than give up the benefits of protection. Toward both these parties the state fails in its duty. The one it drives away by disadvantageous terms, and from the other it extracts sacrifices beyond what are needed for the performance of its original function; and by so doing becomes an aggressor instead of a protector. (p. 247)

In the chapter XIX of SS "The Right to Ignore the State" HS argues for this right to secede from the state at some length. Gives two reasons why an individual has the right to "adopt a condition of voluntary outlawry" (p. 185) or "to drop connection with the State - to relinquish its protection and to refuse paying towards its support" (p. 185):

  • the "law of equal freedom" is universal (p. 185). "Every man has freedom to do all that he wills provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man" (p. 95) By withdrawing from the state and refusing to pay taxes for services one no longer uses, one is not violating the equal freedom of any other person. Therefore the state has no just cause to coerce the individual doing this. Furthermore, the principle also applies to the state and all its officials. They cannot legitimatley initiate the use of force or deprive anyone of their property without violating this principle, i.e without becoming aggressors themselves.
  • HS believes that the government exists for the benefit of individuals and not vice-versa. In fact that there is a contract or understanding between the state and its citizens to provide security. Hence his definition of government "as an agent employed in common by a number of individuals to secure to them certain advantages, the very nature of the connection implies that it is for each to say whether he will employ such an agent or not" (p. 185) Language he uses is related to his idea of the state as a "voluntary mutual protection assocaition" or as a "joint-stock protection society." When state violates contract/agreement to protect individual security then individual has right to seek it elsewhere.
  • coercion is evil - state is evil because it must use violence (p. 186). Govt is essentially criminal, p. 189.

Key words here are "employ" and "joint-stock" society. However, HS does not take next logical step, i.e. to argue that privately owned competing protection companies could exist to satisfy the security needs of individuals. HS leaves the argument hanging at the point where the individual exercises their right to secede from the state when they believe it has become the aggressor, or when they believe their needs could be better satisfied elsewhere. In other words HS does not say what will replace the state with a monopoly of policing power, other than the rather vague notion of a "mutual safety confederation" or the "joint stock protection society." He also seems to believe that some individuals will choose to do without organised protection (the state of "voluntary outlawry") or that society will eventually evolve to the stage where organised protection is no longer necessary since individuals have become more moral. HS sometimes talks about "progress toward a condition of social health" (p. 11) where the state will be no longer needed because crime no longer exists.

Next stage in development of liberal anarchism is thought of Gustave de Molinari.

D. A True Liberal Anarchist: Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912)

Importance of Molinari is that he is the first liberal political economist to extrapolate from contemporary business practice to suggest ways in which non-state, private protective agencies might operate. The Utopia of competing private protection companies. His solution literally takes up HS's idea of a "joint-Stock" protective agency. GM believes protection could be privately provided by:

  • private police companies
  • insurance companies
  • local, privately owned commuities/municipalities

1. Biography of Molinari

Born in Belgium 1819. Went to Paris in 1840 to teach economics at the Collège de France. Joined the liberal Société d'économie politique, and active in Bastiat's Association pour la liberté des échanges. Active journalist during 1840s especially on free trade, railway development and slavery. Wrote for in Bastiat's free trade journal Libre échange, the Journal des économistes, and the Dictionnaire de l'économie politique. After coup d'état of December 1851 GM returned to Belgium to teach economics. Returned to Paris in 1860 to resume career as journalist. Editor of the Journal des débats 1871-76. Editor of JDE 1881-1909 (90 years old). Wrote extensively on economic issues, socialism, free trade, peace, natural law, the evolution of the state.

2. Molinari's Liberal Anarchism

First presented ideas in essay "The Production of Security" in the JDE in February 184? Shared Bastiat's view of the dichotomy between natural and artificial order. GM believes that natural order grows out of the actions of self-interested individuals in the free market, volutnary exchange and the division of labour.

Asks the key question posed by the strict limited state liberals like WvH: why is government unique, why should it be the only institution in society not subject to the benefits of free competition. Asks, if liberal political economists beleive in competition and "liberté du travail" (freedom to enter into any occupation without restriction) because it provides goods and services cheaply and efficiently, then why is this same principle not applied to government services. Economic laws "admit no exceptions" p. 4. GM beleives the onus is on them to show why government is such a special case that competition should not be applied. Recall WvH's explanation that security is only thing which individual cannot supply for themselves unaided.

GM - "this rigorous implication of the principle of free competition" (p.3) must be applied in order to protect the interests of consumers.

GM argues that if competition in the provision of government services is not permitted there are 2 alternatives, monopoly or communism p. 5. In the case of monopoly, GM means the case of a king seizing the monopoly of police and defence forces through war and conquest. By communism he means that all consumers of security or their representatives control the industry by raising taxes and supervising it themselves. But as a liberal GM opposes both monopoly and communism as inefficient ways to produce any good or service. GM concludes that the free market should be allowed to provide security just as it does for any other good or service, and for exactly the same reasons.

How did GM come to this radical extension of free market ideas? One explanation is that the use of the metaphor of a free society as a kind of "joint-stock" protection association with the citizens as "shareholders (HS's words) eventually led to GM seeing it literally in this way. GM used very similar language. Likened society to a mutual insurance company with the taxpayers as the payers of insurance premiums (i.e. taxes). It is only a small step from seeing the provision of security as a metaphor to actually believing that this could happen. GM first to make this step.

Another explanation might lie in GM's natural rights philosophy of individual liberty and property. Both HS and GM believed that the individual had a natural right to dispose of their person and property in any peaceful way they saw fit. This included the right to withold their taxes if they thought the state was no longer able to protect their property adequately. Both also believed that the reason why individuals would do this is becuase the state itself had become the aggressor rather than the protector or their rights. When this occurs, both HS and GM believed individuals had the right to seek alternative suppliers of security services or "producers of security" (p.12). Only GM however, argued that other individuals had the right to supply that service competitively on the free market. Both also believed that if the state forced individuals to contribute taxes when they had peacefully withdrawn or seceded from the state, then the state had become the aggressor. If the state allowed individuals to compete with it in the supply of security, then it would lose its monopoly and cease to be a state.

3. The Production of Security

Where GM differed from HS was in the specific proposals he put forward to explain the practical problem of how private businesses could provide security services in a competitive market. Firstly GM distinguishes between rural and urban areas.

Rural or lightly settled areas would probably still have only one supplier of security services for economic reasons of size and scale. However, inhabitants would still be better off than under the state monopoly system. If the service was poor they could

  • move to the nearest town or ajoining region which had another, more eficient company
  • they could invite a competitor to start up a service to rival the inefficient one
  • they could start up, with the help of neighbours or individually, their own service in competition

Thus, the threat of actual or potential competition would force the exisitng supplier to improve its service.

In urban areas GM thought there was no reason why competition in the supply of protection services could not exist. Private protection companies would exist side-by-side just like other companies in other industries did in the large cities. Example of competing insurance companies. Believed that the companies would have an economic incentive to cooperate in exchanging police information and assisting in finding criminals in order to provide the best possible service to their customers. GM thought his private security companies would set their fees much like existing insurance companies did, on a user pays principle. Premiums would be based upon the amount of property to be protected and the degree/quality of protection each client was prepared to pay for. (p.13, no. 3)

Extent to which our world has approached GM vision. Current interest in making organisers of large sporting events and concerts pay for extra policing. Some American companies getting around enormous backlog in courts by paying private arbitrators (often ex-judges) to settle disputes quickly. Generally, private security industry (banks, delivery of payroll, protection of buildings and factories) has become enormous since GM envisaged his scheme.

Apart from lowering the cost of security GM believed there were other benefits to be had from competition in the production of security. Most important was the end to war on a large scale. War is an activity that takes place between states or between rival groups for control of the state (civil war or revolution). In the absence of monolithic states with their standing armies, their ability to raise enormous sums of money through taxation, and to conscript individuals to fight, there would be much less likelihood of war occuring (p. 14). The private protection companies would not be big enough to contemplate fighting a war. None of them would have a monopoly, which GM thought was essential to fight an aggresive war.

War would become unprofitable to the companies because each company would depend on the continued prosperity of its customers to keep paying premiums, it would also have large investments in the community (like an insurance compnay) which would be damaged in time of war, and some companies might have foreign customers they would not like to lose.

GM was aware of the dangers of a "renegade" company misusing its power but thought there were safeguards to prevent this happening. If one company did try to become a monopoly supplier of security (i.e. tried to become a state) and extort everyone to become its customers, the company's competitors could organise themsleves to oppose the renegade company and to protect the person and property of their own customers. The possibility of individuals turning to other suppliers of security did not exist in a state which had a monopoly. If it became a renegade (i.e. became the aggressor rather than the protector in HS's terms) there was no alternative to the citizens accepting submission or open rebellion.

GM developed his ideas on private, competitive protection companies in later writings for the next 40 years. In the Cours d'économie politique (1855) he argued that the "era of competition" was in the process of gradually replacing the "era of monopoly" (terms also used by B. Constant in 1815) in all areas of society. As the efficiency, low cost and morality of free competition became increasingly apparent, more and more monopolies (including that of protection/security) would be exposed to free competiton. GM believed this monopoly would be the last monopoly to be eliminated, mainly because it was the sole cause of monopolies in the first place. The vested interests created by the other monopolies had to be overcome before the final monopoly itslef could be overcome. Basically GM thought of the government as an ulcer on society which the free market would ultiamtely succeed in destroying.

Thirty years later GM was still arguing for the ending of all government monopolies. In L'evolution politique et la Révolution (1884, but serialised in JDE) he developed a new argument. Now believed that proprietary communities (acting as private companies) will emerge to provide all public services such as street lighting, roads, sanitation, electricity and security to those who live in them. These communities will be built by entrepreneurs (developers?), who would charge a fee to each person who lived in the community for the services provided. If the inhabitants did not like the fee or the service they could "secede" by moving to another community more suited to their needs.

In his last work on the subject, the years of isolation and criticism had taken their toll. In Esquisse de l'organisation politique et économique de la société future (1899) GM had largely abandoned his original idea of private, competing security companies, and even his later idea of privately developed proprietary communities. He now advocated a view which is very similar to that of the New Right today, that the nation itself, rather than individuals, would subcontract out to companies for the efficient provision of public services, inlcuding protection. The state would retain its geographic monopoly but would tender services to competitive bidders, the winner of which would have the right to provide the service in a given place for a given period of time.

E. Conclusion

All this is pretty fanciful stuff. Some of it is prophetic, especially parts of GM's theory that private companies could take over the provision of some security serives, that proprietary communities could arise orgainsed and planned by developers where all public services could be privately supplied. Reveals two things about 19thC liberal thought: the great hostility that many showed to any activity of the state and the optimism they had about the future progress of society.

I think the liberals discussed here show how reluctant many liberals were to accept any role for the state. Most grudgingly and reluctantly accepted the necessary evil of having a limited state to provide police and protection of person and property. Even JSM said any interference with LF principle was an evil (though perhaps necessary evil). Others rejected even this minimal amount and courted utopian anarchist ideas of private, competitive protection companies replacing the state completely.

The common view that either society will evolve into a truly liberal paradise where all rights to personal liberty and property will be respected, thus making the need for the state disappear, shows how optimistic some liberals were in the mid 19thC about the prospects of liberal reform, deregulation and the expansion of the free market. They really believed that the future was theirs, that deregulation and industrialisation would inevitably and for ever continue in a liberal direction. The theories of liberal anarchism discussed here are of societies of the future where current trends are continued indefinitely.

Questions to ask yourselves: are these theories the aberrations of a couple of utopians? is there something in the logic of natural rights and faith in the free market which leads to this extreme position?

Liberal anarchism did not become widespread. GM was attacked by his colleagues in the Political Economy Society for his "fantasies." However, it was taken up by a handful of memebers of the Liberty and Property Defence League in the late 19thC in England, such as the radical individualist Auberon Herbert (a disciple of HS).

One reason liberals did not pursue this utopia was that it soon went onto the defensive against the rise of socialism and trade unionism, the new mercantilism and tariffs. It was more important for liberals to dfend their basic liberal values than to discuss the future liberal utopia.

Nevertheless, these ideas are important becaue they provide us with an insight into mid-19thC liberal thought and its image of the future.



XIII. FREE TRADE I: Free Trade and Protection in Germany: The Formation of the Zollverein

A. Summary

Today's lecture: the gradual formation of a German customs union or Zollverein which ushered in a period of low tariffs and liberal economic reforms from 1834 to 1879

Friday's lecture: discuss ideas of two important German writers on tariffs. The pro-protectionist Friedrich List and the free trader John Prince Smith.

B. The German States in 1815

The Concert of Vienna created the Deutche Bund (German Federation) which lasted until 186? The two dominant powers were Austria and Prussia. A total of 39 states including 5 middle-sized states (Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, Hanover, Saxony) and a multitude of small territories and 4 free cities. Prussia was dominant power north of the River Main. Prussia was divided into two groups of provinces separated by Hanover and Brunswick: West (Brandenburg, Pomerania, Posen, Silesia, East and West Prussia, Saxony) and East Westphalia and Rhineland). South of River Main included Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden.

All 39 states controlled their own economic affairs inlcuding customs and excise, communications, coinage, banking and guilds. Considerable economic rivalry between the states which sometimes led to

  • tariff wars
  • wasteful road building to attract trade away from each other
  • protection to smugglers to take away revenue from neighbours (e.g. English goods smuggled through Frankfurt)

Absurd situation existed and was described by Friedrich List in 1819 of bewildering variety of tolls on waterways and highways between provinces. Some 8,000 officials collected duties on 2,775 articles of trade. Quote from FL's "Petition for a Customs Union by German Merchants and Manufacturers" (1819) in Pollard and Holmes, eds. Documents of European Economic History, vol. 1 p. 366-7:

Thirty-eight customs boundaries cripple trade inside the country, and achieve approximately the same effect as if each limb of the body were separately tied up so that the blood should on no account flow from one to the other. In order to trade from Hamburg to Austria, from Berlin to Switzerland, it is necessary to cross ten states, to study ten tariff ssystems, and to pay ten sets of transit duties. But he who has the misfortune to live on a frontier where three or four states meet, spends all his life among hostile customs officers; he has no fatherland.

Similar response by Thomas Hodgskin in Travels in the North of Germany (1820) quoted in Pollard and Holmes, vol. 1, p. 9? Severe criticism of government oppression of German people. TH believed reason for lack of prosperity was that Germans held erroneous idea that state could promote prosperity:

There are no les than twenty two tolls on the Weser betwixt Münden and Bremen... At every toll every vessel is topped and her whole cargo is examined. On an average, more than an hour is employed at each toll to examine each vessel; so that every one loses one whole day in passing between these two towns. This is a mere waste, a loss of time to all the parties, more injurious probably than the duties which the merchants have also to pay. I have been informed that not one of these sovereigns who levy these tolls, except the King of Prussia, has ever employed on farthing of the money thus collected in clearing the river... It is said the expense of collecting the tolls equals the receipts...
Tolls on the roads are prehaps not less numerous, though les pernicious than tolls on rivers...
Let any person conceive what would be the effect on the commerce of the Thames if there were twenty tolls between London Bridge and the Nore, and that every vessel... had to stop and be examined at every one of those tolls, and he may know accurately the extent of the impediments which the water tolls of the sovereigns of Germany throw in the way of commerce of the country...

C. The Zollverein or Customs Union

Purpose of a customs union is to create a large trading bloc within which trade restrictions such as tolls are eliminated, but outside of which exists a common foreign tariff policy. Aim is to increase the size of domestic market to produce economies of scale, and to eliminate the inefficiencies and costs of trade (thus lowering costs and prices for goods and services).

Two ways in which a German customs union could have been created. First was to use the mechanism of the German Confederation to creat a new common tariff and common customs administration. This was possible under article 19 of the Federal Act of 1815 which stated that

the members of the Confederation reserve for the first meeting of the Federal Diet at Frankfurt-am-Main discussions on trade and Communications between the various Federal States, as well as shipping, on the basis of the principles laid down at the Congress of Vienna. (Henderson, p. 32)

This method was advocated by some business groups (Deutsche Handels- und Gewerbsverein) whose spokesman was Friedrich List, but their lobbying was unsuccessful.

Handout of "Petition for a Customs Union by German Merchants and Manufacturers" (1819) in Pollard and Holmes, eds. Documents of European Economic History, vol. 1 p. 366-7.

Writing on behalf of a group of German merchants and manufacturers Friedrich List objects to argument that "home industry can be brought into being by customs and tariff duties." (p. 366). Argues that "tolls and customs duties, like wars, can be justified only in defense" (p. 367). Calls for abolition of internal tolls and tariffs and creation of common tariff frontier for whole Bund. Tariffs ruin domestic industry. Savings to be made with direct rather than indirect taxation. Citizens break law by smuggling because they think laws are wrong. Political unification demands economic unification. Calls for abolition of all customs and tariffs within Germany and erection of external customs barrier against foreign nations. Principle of retaliation until all European nations recognise principle of free trade (p. 369).

Second method of achieving customs union for Germany was for the smaller states to accept the tariff level of one of the larger states and to thus enter its customs administration. This was route taken. Prussia created Zollverein based on its tariff level. In 1818 Prussia's tariff reformed by Karl Georg von Maasen. Quite a liberal tariff which removed 60 internal duties, ended all prohibitions, and raw materials had free entry. Small tariff of 10% levied on manufactured goods and 20-30% on colonial goods and wines. Tariffs levied on weight not value. Included transit duty of 1/2 thaler per hundredweight. Was the most liberal tariff in 1820s in Europe. Tariffs generally high as a result of mercantilism of ancien régime and wars against Napoelon.

After introduction Prussia had to cope with problem of enclave territories and smuggling. Prussia successful between 1819 and 1830 in signing enclave treaties (Zollanschluß) with neighbours which allowed Prussia to administer the smaller states' custom systems. Became a model for the future incorporation of other states in the Zollverein. Prussia agreed to divide customs revenue with smaller states according to size of population.

Failure to create a German-wide customs union basd on the Bund (Federation) led to formation of three rival customs unions in 182? See map:

  • Southern German Customs Union. Formed in January 1828 and included Bavaria, Baden, Württemberg and some smaller states.
  • Northern German Customs Union (Prussia-Hess-Darmstadt Customs Union). Also established 1828 when Prussia was keen to improve trade across divided Prussia. Only Hesse-Darmstadt joined.
  • Middle German Customs Union. Formed 1828 to rival Prussia and Hesse-Darmstadt. Included Hanover, Brunswick, Hesse-Cassel, Nassau, Frankfurt-am-Main, Saxony, Thuringia. Aim was to block Prussia and prevent a north-south customs union and to avoid having to pay transit dues to Prussia with scheme to build new roads (which were never built).

Over next few years gradual formation of a German-wide customs union with further incorporations and treaties between three unions to facilitate trade. In May 1829 Prussia signed commercial treaty with Southern German Customs Union for preferential trading. In 1831 treaty between Prussia and Holland to facilitate navigation on Rhine River. Southern states given better access to foreign trade. 1831 Hesse-Cassel joined Prussian dominated northern Customs union to complete economic unification of east and west Prussia. 1833 Prussia incorporated southern states into its customs union. New treaty came into force on 1 January 1834 establishing Zollverein with 18 states and combined population of 23.5 million.

Map of 1834 Zollverein.

Handout of Zollverein Treaty of 1833 Holmes and Pollard, pp. 370ff. See especially articles 6 and 7, 14, 15, 18.

Zollverein Treaty of 1833. Other states agreed

  • to adopt more liberal Prussian tariff
  • that Prussia would represent all states in trade negotiations with foreign states
  • that member states would collect the taxes which would be divided according to size of population. Indirect taxes the major source of income for states and as trade increased so did revenues
  • that there would be a general congress of member states every 2 years at which resolutions would be passed unaminously. Result was never to have agreement, thus tariff level frozen at low Prussian tariff level of 1818 Maassen Tariff
  • delegates appointed by member states, not elected. Thus not democratic and little business or industry representation. No response to lobby groups. Liberal minded reform bureaucrats controlled proceedings. (Compare pro-free trade business lobby in England)
  • established for period of 8 years. Renewed twice for 12 year periods. 1842, 1854, 1865
  • led to other reforms of coinage, post, laws about bills of exchange

Curious situation existed where Austria dominated Deutsche Bund politically and Prussia dominated Zollverein (headquarters in Berlin, based on Prussia's tariff, strongest economy). Declining importance of Bund and increasing importance of Zollverein seemed to tip balance of power towards Prussia and away from Austria. Expansion of Zollverein at Austrian expense. Baden and Nassau joined in 1835; Franfurt-am-main 1836; Luxembourg 184? Other states refused to join because feared Prussian domination: Hanover, the 3 Hansa towns of Hamburg, Bremen, Lübeck thus denying Zollverein access to North Sea; and several small north German states. Hanover and Brunswick joined Tax Union, a rival customs union, which lasted for 20 until Prussia's use of military force incorporated them into Zollverein in 1860s.

Compare USA-Canada Free Trade Treaty, Closer Economic Relationship between Australia and NZ, EEC in 1992.

Handout on EEC and 1992 common market.

D. Further Trade Liberalisation in the 1860s

International importance of Cobden-Chevalier Treaty or 1860 Anglo-French Treaty of Commerce. Emperor Napoleon III abandoned traditional French policy of high tariffs. First step towards the creation of a low tariff bloc in western Europe. System of two-tier tariffs. Low tariffs on imported British goods but old high tariffs for all other countries.

Model for other countries to reduce their tariffs with trading neighbours. Prussian government also wanted to secure similar low duties for German exporters to France. Signed 1862 commercial treaty between France and Prussia. Included:

  • Zollverein transit duties abolished
  • most favoured nation clause passed on any future trade concessions either state made to third parties
  • Prussia reduced duties on imported French goods and France reduced tariffs on Prussian goods to level set under Cobden-Chevalier treaty.

When Zollverein treaty renegotiated in 1865 the other members accepted the new lower tariffs agreed to under Franco-Prussian treaty.

Prussia's military victory over Austria in 1866 enable it to annex states which had remained outside of Zollverein: Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, Nasau, Schleswig-Holstein and Frankfurt. This finally linked Prussia's eastern and western provinces. Led to formation of the Nord deutsche Bund (North German Federation) of states north of the River Main which replaced the old 1815 Deutsche Bund (German Federation).

Map of 1867 Zollverein.

The new Zollverein treaty signed in July 1867 came into effect 186? Created a new Customs Council and Customs Parliament manned by memebes of upper and lower houses of parliament of North German Federation respectivley. End of need for unanimous decision making. Prussia now able to completely dominate Zollverein. Between 1868 and 1870 Customs Parliament continued policy of liberalising Zollverein tariff level. By 1871, when German Recih/Empire formed and when Zollverein was absorbed completely into Reich, Germany had a free trade tariff system similar to Britain's.

  • raw materials, manufactured goods and food on free list
  • pig-iron paid duty until 1877
  • low revenue duties on tobacco and coffee
  • extensive commerical treaties with neighbours

Within the North German Federation additional economic reforms were made to liberalise the economy.

  • shipping dues on Rhine, Main and Ruhr abolished
  • end of usury laws
  • introduction of metric system
  • reformed post office
  • new company laws to allow formation of joint-stock companies in 1870

The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 resulted in the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine which held the largest iron ore field in western Europe and extensive textile industry. Finally, Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden joined and in 1871 formation of a united German Reich with central control of tariff policy.

End of free trade and liberal economic reforms during Reich. Trigger was economic depression of 1873-7? Traditional anti-free trade business groups demanded protection and previously free trade east Prussian agriculturalists now were losing markets to USA and Canada. Now adopted support for tariffs and joined forces with business interests. Bismarck used tariff question to split Liberal Party. New tariffs introduced in July 1879 with quite moderate rates of 10-15%. Revised upwards in 1885, 1887, 1891.



XIV. FREE TRADE II: The Conflict between Free Trade and Protectionism in germany: John Prince Smith vs Friedrich List

A. Summary

Last lecture:

This lecture:

B. Introduction

Year before first renewal of Zollverein in 1842 Friedrich List published his most famous work, The National System of Political Economy (1841) which, along with his articles for journal Zollvereinsblatt and the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung began controversy over tariff policy in German states. FL's position was to advocate free trade within Zollverein between German states but to have much higher protective tariffs with other non-German states. FL's free trade opponent was ex-patriot Englishman John Prince Smith who wrote Über Handelsfeindseligkeit (1843) (On Trade Hostility).

Interesting contrast with England in 1840s when debate about free trade also took place. England had high tariff (the Corn Laws) and navigation acts already in place. Free traders (under Richard Cobden's leadership) too offensive with support of British manufacturers (Manchester School) against agricultural interests. Different situation in German states where, under Zollverein, the low Prussian tariff prevailed. Protectionists took offensive with pro-tariff industrialists in iron and textiles against free trade agriculturalists from east. Free traders on defensive.

C. Friedrich List (1789-1846)

Major works include Outlines of American Political Economy (1827); The Natural System of Political Economy (1839); and The National System of Political Economy (1841).

FL son of a prosperous tanner in Reutlingen, Württemberg. Entered civil service and rose to rank of ministerial under-secretary. Became Professor of Staatspraxis (state administration) at University of Tübingen. Agitated for adminstrative and commercial reform with the "Handels- und Gewerbsverein" (Trade and Industry Association). Discussed extract in last lecture. Forced to resign his teaching post because of his political activity. Took up position as secretary of HGV and edited their journal. Elected in 1819 to Diet of Württemberg where he worked for stronger local government, tax reform and government aid to industry. Expelled from Diet and conmdemned to 10 months imprisonment at hard labour. Exile in Paris where he the liberal leader General Lafayette. Returned to Germany and rearrested. Released on condition that he migrate to the USA.

Settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvannia where there was large German community. Edited local Readlinger Adler for which he wrote articles attakcking what he called Smithian cosmopolitanism. FL supported government assistance to industry, protection of local industry, or in other words what he called "the American system." Actively supported Democratic Party in 1828 to elect Andrew Jackson to presidency. Involved in American debate on tariffs in 182? Supported protectionist Philadelphia Society for the Promotion of Manufactures and the mechanic Arts. FL made his fortune in the USA with successful investments in a Pennsylvania coalfield and railroads.

Returned to Germany in 1832 and invested in German railroad development, the Leipzig to Dresden line. Exiled by Metternich again to Paris where he wrote the Système naturel d'économie politique (1839) in an essay competition sponsored by the liberal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences on the question "If a country proposes to introduce free trade or to modify its tariff, what factors should it take into account so as to reconcile in the fairest manner the interests of producers with those of consumers?" Written in autumn of 1837 when FL wwas living in Paris. Although FL did not win the prize (none of the 27 manuscripts were considered worthy enough) he did get a commendation. Became basis for his longer work The National System of Political Economy (1841). I have chosen to examine The Natural System of Political Economy because it is short, concise and is the clearest statement of FL's views.

1. List's Opposition to International Free Trade

FL's opposition to free trade was based on a number of reasons, the most important of which are the following:

  • Rejection of Smithian "cosmopolitan" economics
  • Fear of dominant nation, i.e. Britain (Japan)
  • Need for the individual to sacrifice their interests for that of the nation
  • Problem of war and the need to protect war industries
  • Other arguments: nation goes through stages of economic development - protection of "infant industry" argument; problem of nation having sufficient territory to create a viable and powerful national economy. Idea of autarchy (Hitler); duty of the state to foster economic development of the nation

2. Rejection of Smithian "Cosmopolitan" Economics

FL criticised Adam Smith's free trade, "cosmopolitan economics." Contrasted this with "national economics." FL concluded that 18th and 19thC economic theory had concentrated too much on the individual and on the abstract idea of the human race as a whole ("cosmopolitanism" of the Enlightenment) and had neglected the nation as an important component in economic development. The liberal classical economists had concentrated too much on individual consumers and producers and had ignored the nation. Interesting to note that Adam Smith's classic work of economic theory was called An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). Using the word "nations" indicated AS's cosmopolitanism. FL wanted to develop a theory of economics which would focus on the "German Nation" (which did not exist at the time of his writing) rather than on individuals or "nations." In his National Suystem of Political Economy (1841) FL wanted to show "by what policy of economics the welfare, the culture, and the power of Germany might be promoted." (Snyder, p. 13 quoting intro to NSPE). As he explained in the intro to NSPE:

I was led to consider the idea of nationality. I perceived that the popular theory (of political economy) took no account of nations, but simply of the entire human race on the one hand, or of single individuals on the other. I saw clearly that free competition between two nations which are highly civilised can only be mutually beneficial in case both of them are in a nearly equal position of industrial development, and that any nation which owing to misfortunes in getting behind others in industry, commerce and navigation, must first of al strengthen her own individual powers. In a word, I perceived the distinction between cosmopolitical and political economy. I felt that Germany must abolish her internal tariffs, and by the adoption of a common uniform policy towards foreigners, strive to attain to the same degree of commercial and industrial development to which other nations have attained by means of their commercial policy. (Snyer, p. 13 quoting intro to NSPE, p. x.)

FL believed that universal free trade was an ideal which one day in the far future might be realised when all nations had reached the same level of industrial development. Until that time had been reached it was the responsibility of each nation to foster the development of its own industry by means of prohibitions, import duties, subsidies and navigation acts to reduce the imports of manufactured goods from the more advanced nations (i.e. Britain, or Japan today).

3. Fear of Dominant Nation

Believed that free trade was doctrine used by more advanced industrial nation (Britain) to increase their domination of world trade and to reduce economically weaker nations (German states) to "slavery."

There is therefore a real danger that the strongest nations will use the motto "Free Trade" as an excuse to adopt a policy which will certainly enable them to dominatethe trade and industry of weaker countries and reduce them to a condition of slavery.
All over the world people misuse the term "Free Trade". They use it to deceive people while linig their own pockets under the cloak of patriotism. The vast mass of humanity cannot be expected to grasp the full implications of high politics or the differences between commercial, political, and social freedom.
Inside a country the policy of free trade is beneficial provided that it simply means that citizens are free to manufacture waht they please and are not restricted when moving their produce from one place to another. But free trade in foreign commerce is far from beneficial. Indeed it is the eqivalent of commercial slavery. Free trade in this sense - if introduced unilaterally - permits foreign competitors to ruin native industry while denying to native manufacturers to compete on equal terms with foreign rivals in markets abroad. Such "freedom" leaves us to the tender mercies of foreigners. Our industry and commerce are dependent upon their laws and regulations. (Natural, pp. 24-5)

Obvious objection to this is that if free trade is beneficial within an arbitrarily defined geographical area (i.e. the nation) it would also be beneficial within a larger area (i.e. the entire world).

4. Need for the Individual to Sacrfice their Interests for that of the Nation

FL rejects idea that state exists to serve the needs of the individual. Rather the individual owes their culture, language, opportunity to work and protection of their property to the state. Therefore it is appropriate that individual sacrifice themselves for sake of nation. Includes paying higher prices for lower quality goods subject to tariffs in order to encourage domestic industry. Clear that FL rejects an essential aspect of liberal individualism discussed in previous lecture.

Each individual - be he a manufacturer, farmer, merchant, professional man, or pensioner - is a member of the country in which he lives. The state protects him and helps him achieve the aims that he pursues as an individual.
Individuals owe to a nation their culture, their language, their opportunity to work, and the safety of their property. Above all they depend upon the state in their relations with people in other countries. They share in the nation's glory and in its misfortunes; they share in its memories of the past and its hopes for the future; they share its wealth and its poverty. From the nation they draw all the benefits of civilisation, enlightenment, progress, and social and political institutions, as well as advances in the arts and sciences. If a nation declines, the individual shares in the disastrous consequences of its fall.
So it is right and proper that the individual should be prepared to sascrifice his own interests forthe benefit of the nation to which he belongs. (NSPE, p. 30)

Free traders criticised FL's argument about importance of the nation over the individual. Responded that tariff do not benefit the "nation" but particular vested intersts or classes within the nation, such as the owners of factories and the workers who work in those factories prtotected from cheaper foreign competition. They benefit at general consumers' expense.

Compares need for restriction of economic freedom with similar need to pay taxes or conscription to defend state.

It is obvious therefore that individuals in a country must accept the restrictions (tariffs) imposed for the welfare of the nation as a whole. It is equally obvious that the freedom of the individual must be restricted to secure the freedom of all the individuals who make up a nation. In doing this a state acts in the same way as it does when it demands part of an indidivual's wealth to pay for the administration of the country or when it calls upon its citizens to serve in the armed forces, at risk of life and limb, to defend its independence. (p. 33)

5. Problem of War and the Need to Protect War Industries

FL admits that war is "stupid and savage" (p. 30) and that peace and free trade would best serve the mutual intersts of nations and contribute most to prosperity. But nations have not yet reached a higher enough "state of political and social development" to make free trade and peace possible. Concludes "it is not yet safe for the lamb to lie down with the lion" (p. 30). Tariffs are necessary in order to maintain essential industries which are needed in time of war. State cannot be "independent" without the development of industry behind tariff barriers. Otherwise it is subject to whim of stronger foreign economic powers.

The doctrine of national economics teaches us that a country which hopes to attain the highest degree of independence, culture and material prosperity, should adopt every measure within its power to defend its economic security from any foreign attack, whether such an attack takes the form of hostile legislation or military action. To enable a country to protect itself it is essential that it should establish industries and foster their development - insofar as this is possible with available physical and human resources....
In time of war every country is forced to establish factories to make those goods which were formerly imported from abroad in exchange for products made at home. The result is the same as that achieved by a prohibitive fiscal policy in peace time. The nation is forced to demand great sacrifices from consumers in order to create new industries. And this happens just when the means available for the establishment of manufactures have been reduced to a minimum. If free trade is introduced when hostilities the newly established industries will be thrown to the tender mercies of foreign competitors. In these circumstances a country will lose all the capital, all the experience, and all the work of the war years and will return to its former position of weakness and dependence upon foreigners.
In the event of war or the threat of war it is essential for a Great Power to establish industries. And in peacetime a government should foster the establishment of new branches of manufacture to safeguard the prosperity and the culture of the nation. (p. 32).

Free traders' response is that the economic distortions and waste brought about by war should not be continued in peacetime; if all nations tried to have basically the same industries then the greater productivy of the international division of labour and international comparatative advantage could not be achieved; the existence of war industries makes it more likely rather than less likely that a nation will go to war.

6. "Infant Industry" Argument for Protection

FL believed that nations went through four stages of economic development. One of first to develop the theory.

  • First stage: isolation and self-sufficiency of village economy. Peasants and craftsmen produced all that the village required.
  • Second stage: Exchange between village and more developed town. Introduction of new production techniques and exchange of commidities.
  • Thrid stage: Improved communications enabled rural and urban workshops to supply entire country. Country now self-sufficient.
  • Fourth stage: Contact made with neighbouring countries allowing import of food and raw materials and the export of manufactured goods.

FL believed that at the 4th stage, when international trade is just beginning, it is the duty of the state to encourage the development of industry throughout the nation. Until "infant" industries have become established and thus able to compete internationally, they should be "protected" by tariffs. Fear that a "dominant" nation which has a headstart would wipe out :infant" industry if free trade was policy.

Common argument used by many developing nations, inlcluding Australia, to justify policy of protection of local industry. E.g. Australian car industry. FL's plan is that ultimately the tariff protection of infant industries will be repealed and the mature industry exposed to competition of international free trade. Counter argument is that protection creates a vested interest which is reluctant to see tariffs abolished; consumers forced to purchase higher priced local good instead of cheaper foreign good, thus restricting growth and development in other parts of the economy.

D. John Prince Smith (1809-1874)

An Englishman educated at Eton. Became the leading opponent of Friedrich List and protectionism in Germany in 1840s. As a young man he was employed as a bank clerk, parliamentary reporter and journalist. In 1830 went to Hamburg (leading merchant town with strong trade connections with Britain) to write for an English language newspaper. 1831 JPS became modern language teacher at Cowle's gymnasium in Elbing, an east Prussian port). Elbing merchants had close contacts with English traders and were supporters of low tariffs, especially on imported English manufactured goods. In 1847 the English free trader Richard Cobden described the economic hardship suffered by the Prussian trading ports as a result of the Zollverein tariff policy:

The protective duties of the Zollverein are particularly injurious to the Baltic provinces of Prussia, which export weat, timber and other raw produce. The manufacturing districts of Rhenish Prussia are entirely cut off and detached from this part of the kingdom: they receive their imports and send out their exports by the Rhine, not through a Prussian port; thus the protective system stands in the way of the increase of the foreign trade in the Prussian ports, and stops the growth of the mercantile marine without even offering the compensation of an artificial trade in manufactures. In fact, owing to her peculiar geographical position, the maritime prosperity of Prussia is more completely sacrificed than any other State by the protective system. (quoted in Henderson, "Prince Smith," p. 168.

Thus not surprising that Elbing merchants in favour of free trade. JPS showed his interest in the liberalism and the free trade movement by joining the Elbing Wednesday Club of liberal merchants, supporting in 1837 one of the Göttingen Seven (profesors dismissed from their posts for their liberal views); and writing free trade articles in the Elbinger Anzeiger. In 1840 JPS gave up teaching in order to agitate for free trade full time. Wrote a series of pamphlets and established himself as the leading free trade advocate in German states.

One of most noted essays was Über Handelsfeindseligkeit (On Hostility to Trade) (Königsberg, 1843). Contained 2 key ideas.

  • JPS argued that Prussia should unilaterally adopt free trade. Even if other countries retained the wall of tariffs against Prussian exports, Prussian consumers would still be much better off if free to import lower-priced tariff-free foreign goods. Held view common to free trade position that tariffs hurt the very people they were supposed to protect, i.e. the Prussian people. JPS put it thus:
... if England increases the price of bread of its citizens why should Prussia as a reprisal raise the cost of cotton goods consumed by its people?"
  • JPS argued that free trade leads to a reduction in international rivalry and hence leads to international harmony/peace. (See Richard Cobden's writins for more on this).

1840s was an important period in German free trade movement: by this time the low Prussian tariff (Maasen tariif of 1818) which had become enshrined in the 1834 Zollverein had become relatively more burdensome due to falls in the prices of foreign goods (tariff paid on weight not price so did not fall when goods became cheaper); increasing pressure from south German and Rhineland manufacturers to increase tariffs on pig iron; rising influence of Friedrich List; success of Anti-Corn Law League in 1846 (JPS wrote a letter to PM Sir Robert Peel who repealed Corn Laws, on behalf of the Elbing merchants praising him for his reform measures).

As a result of the success of ACLL and Richard Cobden, JPS (like Bastiat in France) tried to duplicate the British movement in Germany. JPS moved to Berlin in 1846 to direct the free trade movement in Germany. Establishedthe "Free Trade Union" in 1847 with branch societies in the leading commercial cities such as Frankfurt AM, Hamburg, Rostock and Stettin. Helped established free newspapers such as the Freihandelszeitun in Leizig; the Volkswirt in Frankfurt; the Deutscher Freihafen in Hamburg; and the Rostocker Zeitung.

JPS's aim was to convert German liberals to free trade. Except for liberals in the port towns, most liberals from south Germany and the Rhineland were protectionist. In May 1849, with the support of the Hamburg and Stettin free traders JPS set up the "Central Association for Free Trade" in Berlin. By 1851 there were 30 affiliated societies across Germany.

Greatest success came from influencing Prussian politicians and bureaucrats rather than in creating a popular free trade movement as the ACLL had done in Britain. Exerted influence on Prussian Minister President Manteuffel which led to appointment in 1856 of free trade civil servants to the Prussian departmental committee set up to revise Zollverein tariffs.

Reasons for the lack of a popular free trade movement in German states:

  • diversity of German support for free trade with little common ground between them (conservative Prussian land owners, Hanseatic merchants, some industrialists, liberal journalsists and intellectuals, government officials responsible for overseeing the Zollverein)
  • gerneral lack of support from growing industrialist class, whereas in Briatin this class generally supported free trade, in Germany manufacturers wanted protection from British competition.
  • the restrictive voting laws in German states prevented the middle class (as in England after 1832 Reform Bill) from putting pressure on state for greater free trade.

Liberalism and free trade movement generally went into decline after failure of 1848 revolution and cosnervative reaction in early 1850s. Began to revive in late 1850s with establishment of such organisations as:

  • the "Volkswirtschaftlicher Kongreß" (Economic Congress) established by Böhmert, editor of the Bremer Handelsblatt in 1857 to foster free trade, industrial freedom, the abolition of remaining transit dues and river tolls.
  • the "Wohltätigkeitskongreß" (Welfare Congress) to alleviate working class poverty, established in Frankfurt in 1857
  • the cooperative movement set up by Schultz-Delitzsch

The Volkswirtschaftlicher Kongreß first met in Gotha in 1858 and included many important liberal economists and parliamentarians as well as JPS who served as chairman of the Congress's standing committee. At their annual meetings they discussed tariff reform. In 1860 proposed the following list of reforms:

  • the abolition an differential import duties and dues on shipping
  • the removal of all protective duties and their replacement with much lower duties designed to raise revenue only
  • the aboliton of all export and transit dues
  • the adoption of a uniform tariff which would be applicable to all forreign goods.

Resolutions of Congress exerted considerable influence on the Prussian government and their program became the Prussian government's tariff policy in the 1860s.

JPS's activity in last years of his life was as liberal free trade parliamentarian. Firstly in Prussian lower house as Member for Stettin and then in the Reichstag in 1870.

E. Frédéric Bastiat's "Petition"





XV. WOMEN I: The Situation of Women in France

A. Summary

Today: discuss discontinuity of French feminism due to cycle of revolution and reaction. Look at restrictions on women in law (Civil Code), religion and education. General economic situation.

Friday: ideal of domesticity challenged by liberal and republican feminism. Known as "la querrelle des femmes" during Second Empire. Proudhon vs Julliette Lambier and Jenny Héricourt. Liberal republican feminism during Third Republic - Maria Deraisnes and Léon Richer.

B. Introduction

Peculiarity of French feminism result of two factors: discontinuity and ideological contradictions. Firstly, feminism in France during 19thC has been described by Moses as example of discontinuous development vs continous development in England. Clare Goldberg Moses, French Feminism in the Nineteenth Century (State University of New York Press, 1984). Secondly, influenced by contadictory traditions which created tensions within it. One tradition is liberal based upon enlightened individualism of 18thC and the Revolution, liberal constitutionalism of period 1800-1848, and liberal republicanism after 1852 during Second Empire. Other is socialist based on the utopian socialism of Saint-Simon and Fourier, and later the more orthodox socialism and socialist republicanism.

The start-stop cycle of French feminism is the result of political repression which silenced the movements leaders in 1793, 1834, 1850, 187? The reaction following 1848 revolutions was most damaging. French feminism in the 1840s was among most developed in the world. After the rise of Napoleon III and the Second Empire, the leaders of the movement were either in jail or in exile. Revival of feminist movement after 1879 in Third Republic when the liberal republican party came to power. Republicans liberalised laws which regulated newspapers, magazines and public meetings, thus making it possible for feminists to organise and spread their views. Other changes of benefit to women at this time included the creation of secondary schools for girls and the reestablishment of divorce. In early 20thC, mothers given equal authority with fathers over control of minor children in 1907, mothers with illegitimate children given right to exercise "paternal authority," 1912 given right to initiate paternity suit, 1919 universal suffrage bill presented in Chamber of Deputies but delayed until 1944 by Senate.

C. Situation of Women in Nineteenth Century France

1. Discrimination under the Law

Position of women defined by the Civil or Napleonic Code of 1804 which reflected Napoleon's own image of women. 19thC feminists correctly described the Code as a veritable "paper Bastille" of legal restrictions on women. Evidence of Napoleon's hostility to women is the famous dispute he had with the liberal Madame de Staël over her claim that "genius has no sex". Napoleon replied that it was an absurd idea and that "nothing is more detestable than the woman who thinks." According to Napoleon "what we ask of education is not that girls should think, but that they should believe." Napoleon helped construct Code and his influence led to undoing of many gains women had made during revolution. Napoleon's idela was that the family would be a microcosm of French society with the husband and father as the Emperor and the wife and children as obedient subjects. In another analogy, Napoleon said women belong to men as the tree and the fruit belong to the gardener.

The provisions of the Civil Code regarding women remained in force throughout the 19thC. It is an indicator of the conservative nature of French society in spite of the repeated bouts of revolution in 1815, 1830, 1848, 1852 and 1870. The basic principle of the Code governing women was that in return for "protection" the wife owed her husband "obedience." Specific restrictions included: women could not witness state documents such as for births, deaths and marriages; they could be notary publics or act as the guardians of someone else's children.

Married women even more restricted. They were forbidden from disposing of their own property without their husband's consent. Under the marriage settlement known as "régime de communité" wife forced to take husband's nationality, not permitted to live in a separate home (i.e. separation not allowed), husband's permission needed for wife to own her own business or to exercise a profession.

Power of father over children extensive: father alone able to adminster financial affairs of minor children, consent needed before children could marry, able to exercise ancient "right of correction" to have child imprisoned for 6 months (one month if child less than 16).

Excellent example of the double standard in morality upheld in Code. Husband had the right to a legal separation if the wifew was adulterous. Wife could only get a separation if the husband's "concubine" lived in the family home and if she could prove it. Also inequalities in penalties for adulterous behaviour: wife could be imprisoned, husband fined bewtween F100-2,000. Infamous law entitled husband to kill wife and lover if caught in "flagrant délit". Husband acquitted under article 324 of Code.

Concerning divorce, the 1792 law making divorce possible was severely restricted by Code in 180? Divorce prohibited outright in 1816 following restoration. Divorce not reintroduced until liberal Third Republic in 188? Some French feminists argued that a wife in 19thC France was less free than slaves of ancient Greece and Rome. Slaves at least could be freed by their master. Husbands explicitly forbidden by Code from abandoning/renouncing their rights over their wife.

No right of women to postal privacy. Husbands allowed to open wife's mail "to seek proof of an offense against his honour or some grave lapses to the obligations of marriage of which his wife might be guilty" (Bidelman, p. 6). Politically the position of women was that they could neither vote nor stand for office. Peculiar situation of single women and widows in French law. They were given much greater freedom than married women, which is why so many French feminists refused to get married.

2. Discrimination in the Catholic Church

Church structure was hierarchical and authoritarian (see Stendhal's novel The Red and the Black for a description of the Church in the 1820s) and the most important and influential positions were reserved for men. Church explicitly forbad church officials from having sex or marrying (celibacy) which many feminists interpreted as a demonstration of hostility to women. Church advocated the philosophy of the natural domesticity of women and their confinement to family life in the home. Indication of Catholic view of women's role is provided by Catholic conservative political philosopher, Louis de Bonald (1753-1840), who believed in the public (men)/ private (women) division of labour:

women belong to the family, and not to political society and nature has made them for domestic cares and not for public functions.

To women fell almost exclusively the task of raising children thus,

all, in their education, ought to be directed toward domestic utility, as all, in the education of young men, ought to be directed toward public utility... (Nature) gives to the one, from the most tender age, the taste for political and even religious ACTION, the taste for horses, for arms, for religious ceremonies; it gives to the other the taste for sedentary and domestic works, for household cares, for DOLLS. (Bidelman, p. 7)

Bonald thought that women were a separate race of human beings, an "homme-enfant" or man-child or adult child. This is exactly how the Code treated women, as a minor or imbecile without the full legal rights of the adult male and husband.

When the Falloux law of 1850 opened up secondary education to some women, the church was given control in order to put into practice the philosophy of education described by Bonald. Church also supported "protective" legislation which raised price of women workers thus making women less atractive to employers. Also undercut wages of women workers with subsidised convent workshops.

3. Discrimination in Eduation

A constant complaint of liberal feminists was the unavailablility and inadequacy of girl's schools. Indicator of lack of education for women was fact that illiteracy rate for women persisted at a level 50% greater than for men. In 1851 adult illiteracy rate was 40-45% with a breakdown of 3:2 female: male (i.e. 3/5 illiterates were women). Some 20 years later in the 1870s adult illiteracy rate was 31% but ratio remained the same. By 1889 15% of all brides illiterate but only 9% of grooms. By 1900 as better educational facilties were available ratio evened out to 6:5 female:male.

Education policy greatly influenced by conservative liberal François Guizot who was Minister for Education and then Prime Minister during July Monarchy. FG created a nationwide system of primary schools for boys in 183? This was extended to girls in 1850 with Falloux law but it also led to greater role for Catholic Church in education of women. Serious weakness was that no provision was made for the training of women teachers. In the 1860s Napoleon III's education minister Victor Duruy exapnded primary education and created secondary system for girls. However women only allowed to teach needlwork.

With the rise of the liberal Republican Party in 1879 in Third Republic to control the National Assembly came further reform. 1879 law requiring every department to establish a school for women primary school teachers. 1881 law establishing schools to train women secondary teachers. Schooling became free of charge and compulsory. The result of these measures was to weaken the power of the Church in the education of women. By 1887 still only 16 highschools and 19 colleges for women.

In spite of reforms the French education system still discriminated against women by not awarding equal degrees and diplomas. Girls were not elligible to sit for the "baccalauréat" or "bac" which was indication of completion of secondary school as a requirement for access to universities. Pioneer liberal feminist who received a "bac" from the University of Lyon in 1860 was Julie Baubié who later wrote a famous, prize winning essay on La femme pauvre au XIXe siècle (Paris: Guillaumin, 1866). By 1881 only 88 women had received the "bac". A serious impediment to overcome was difference in curriculum between girls and boys schools. In girls school only the "diplôme de fin d'études seconbdaires" and not the bac was awarded. Greek and Latin was a requirement for admission to university but these subjects not taught in girls schools. Women who wanted to go to uiversity had to learn Greek and Latin from their brothers or friendly priests. A common course of study and same degrees were not granted until 1924.

Even with bac the study of professional degrees were difficult for women to get. Victor Duruy opened medical faculties to women in 1868, other faculties followed in 1870s during Third Republic, law faculties opened 188? Professional bodies still refused access to women even with medical or law degrees by their control over internship at hospitals and membership of the bar (until 1900).

The gradual opening of higher education and secondary schools to women during the Third Republic (i.e. after 1879) was due to the the anticlerical fear of many republicans. Feared the control Church had over women through their education. One way to break the power of the Church was to provide a secular education for women. By means of Church education women were sympathetic to the monarchy and power of the Church. Jules Ferry, Minister of Education in 1879 and later Prime Minister twice in 1880s, argued that women must be weaned away from their dependency on and loyalty to the churhc and the monarchy. He believed "women must belong to scienmce or to the church" (Bidelman, p. 17). Believed that a secular, state-supported education for women would strengthen the family and the reappearance of the ancien régime or what he called "that edifice of regrets, beliefs, and institutions which does not accept modern democracy." Women were part of the liberal battle between liberalism/science/enlightenment vs clericalism/monarchy Possible "fifth column" for the churhc and monarchy in French society.

In this combat, women cannot be neutral; optimists... imagine that she does not take part in the battle, but they do not perceive the secret and persistent support that she brings to that group which is on the run and which we want to drive out forever. (Bidelman, p. 17)

The exapnsion of educational opportunities for womenin the Third Republic is thus the combination of both the influence of feminst ideas on people like Jules Ferry (he had been a participant in liberal feminst groups in the 1860s) as well as the need ffelt by liberal republicans to counter the influence of the church in women's education. Irony is that the Church's domination of women's education was a direct result of the French state's deliberate policy in the 1830s of depriving women of educational opportunities. Thus the church stepped in to fill need. Also led to reluctance of men to allow women to vote. Feared that domination of church would lead women to vote for conservative Church party.

4. The Economic Situation of Women in 19thC France

Some figures concerning employment of women. In 1866 number of women in non-agricultural work 2.7 million, rose to 4.5 million in 191? In agriculture in 1866 1.8m, rose to 3.2 m in 191? Women workers as percentage of total female population in 1866 25% in 1911 40%. The typical woman worker was young and single. In 1906 for 18-19 year olds 43% had non-agricultural jobs such as domestic service, clothing and textile industries.

Change in types of jobs undertaken by women occured during Third Republic (i.e. after 1875) due to better educational opportunies including the opening up of higher education to women. major source of opposition to women working in more skilled jobs came from trade union movement which attempted to maintain high male wages by using restrictive labour practices to keep out women competitors. One of the great changes in women's work was the transfer of women from domestic service (the home/private area) to jobs in indusry, banking and commerce as secretaries and clerks. In 1866 1,050,753 in domestic service, but by 1906 declined to 781,200. Emplyment in banks and commerce in 1866 328,00, by 1906 risen to 771,000. This was a small victory for women in that it got them out of the home (if not theirs then someone else's) and into the market, and because secretarial work had been for a long time a male monopoly. Many men had feared that a women "would lose all her feminity by stepping foot into an office" (Bidelman, p.11).

In spite of new opportunities women still earned less than males. In a study by the Office du travail in 1891-93 female average pay in the Department of the Seine (Paris region) was F3 per day, elsewhere in France somewhat less at F2.1 per day. Whereas male average pay in Seine region was F6.15 and elsewhere F3.? Only exception was the cutting and polishing of gemstones where both sexes received the high rate of F9.25 per day.

The situation of low paid women workers was graphically described in an important book by Jules Simon, L'Ouvrière (The Working Woman) (Paris: Hachette, 1861). Simon later became a leading Republican politician. JS calculated that if a woman could work for a year without sickness or unemployment she should earn F500 per annum (F1.6 per day for 6 day working week). After deducting cost of rent, fuel, clothing and essentials this left her 60 centimes for food. JS also calcualted that wage rates in Paris were slightly above this level at F2.1 per day and less in provinces at F1.? The income of a women teacher was quite low at F400 per year or F1.3 per day.

Poverty also led to the problem of prostitution. Attracted attention of many reformers and writers in 19thC. Pioneer liberal feminist Julie Daubié in La femme pauvre (1866) argued that there was a direct link between low wages and prostitution. Idea that prostitution is an economic problem not a moral problem. Also a theme in Émile Zola's carefully researched social novels such as L'assomoir (1876) and Nana. Daubié observed that:

The inadequate pay of the modern working woman sometimes drives her, even during a period of industrial prosperity, into meeting her budget by selling her body... this is called the 5th quarter of the day (i.e. night work?) (and) during periods of unemployment, this kind of right to work fills the entire day. (Bidelman, p. 12)

Modern historians put the number of prostitutes in Paris in the 1860s and 1870s at 20,000.

Zola has a memorable account in L'Assomoir (1876) of how poverty forced Gervaise to turn to prostitution in order to be able to feed herself. G has a unemployed drunk/alcoholic for a husband who spends what litle the family earns on drink. G already has her daughter Nana selling herself on the streets of Paris (EZ later devoted an entire novel to her exploits) as a result of the poverty and domestic violence she suffers under, but it is the plight of the erstwhile hardworking and upright mother which EZ describes so well, forced to choose between stealing and prostituting herself for a meal:

Gervaise put her hand on Coupeau's (her husband) shoulder as he was coming out of the 'Petite-Civette'. (a pub)
'Look, I'm waiting. I'm hungry. Is this all the money I'm getting from you?'
He soon settled her hash.
'You're hungry are you? Eat your fist then, and keep the other for tomorrow!'...
'So you want me to steal,' she muttered.
Mes-Bottes (Coupeau's drinking companion) stroked his chin with a concilitory air.
'No, that isn't allowed,' he said. 'But when a woman knows how to make the best of herself...'
Coupeau burst in with applause. Yes, of course a woman should know how to turn herself to advantage...
The two men went towards the outer boulevards. Gervaise following. After a time she began again, behind Coupeau's back.
'I'm hungry, you know... I relied upon you. You must find me something to eat.'
No answer. She repeated in a heartrending tone:
'So you won't give me anyhting?'
'But I haven't got anything, for God's sake!' he roared back at her. 'Leave me alone, will you, or I'll bash you one.'
His fist was already raised. She shrank back, then seemed to come to a decision.
'All right, I'm through with you. I'll find some other man.'
That made him laugh. He pretended to take it as a jok, but in reality he was urging her on. That was a damn good idea, that was! At night by the light of the street lamps she might still get it off with someone. If she picked up a man he advised her to go to the 'Capucin' restaurant, where there were some little private rooms where you ate very well. As she was moving off along the boulevard, pale and wild-eyed, he shouted after her:
'Oh, and bring me back some of the dessert. I've got a sweet tooth. And if your gentleman is well turned out ask him for an old overcoat and can get my rake-off from that.'
Pursued by this infernal jabber Gervaise went faster. When she was alone in the crowd she slowed down. Her mind was made up. Between stealing and doing that she preferred doing that, because anyway it wouldn't be doing anybody any harm. She was only going to dispose of what was her own. It might not be very nice, but the nice and the not nice were getting a bit mixed up in her cranium just now; when you are dying of hunger you don't jabber philosophy, you eat the food which comes to hand. (pp. 391-2)

Interesting to note that EZ adopts the argument used by the natural rights school of liberals concerning self-ownership. Puts into G's mind that it was her body to do with what she willed so long as she didn't harm anyone else. G walks the streets for a while to observe the behaviour of the other more experienced prostitutes before attempting to solicit a man herself. Powerful images of prostitutres as desparate individuals pacing the streets like caged animals, like ghosts in the light of the gaslamps, and perhaps most movingly of all, like soldiers on sentry duty spaced 20 paces apart, guarding the city:

Gervaise had no idea what to do, and tried to learn by copying them. She felt scared like a little girl, not sure whether she was ahamed or not, for she was acting in a bad dream. For a quarter of an hour she stood quite still.
Men went by without looking. So she went into action herself and plucked up courage to accost a man who was whistling with his hands in his pockets. She said in a chocked voice:
'Excuse me, Sir...'
He glanced at her and went on his way, whistling louder.
Gervaise grew bolder and forgot herself in the frenzy of the chase, relentlessly pursuing the meal that was ever eluding her empty stomach. She tramped round for a long while, oblivious of time and place. All round silent, shadowy women were moving to and fro with the strictly regular pacing up and down of animals in a cage. They emerged slowly like ghosts from the darkness, passed into the light of a gaslamp which showed up their pallid features, and then faded into the shadows again, swinging the bit of white petticoat showing below their skirt, away back into the provocative mystery of the darkness. Some men let themselves be stopped, stood talking just for a lark, and then went on again, laughing. Others discreetly moved along, keeping unobtrusively about ten yards behind a woman. Murmured conversations could be heard, quarrels in voices kept low, or furious haggling which suddenly relapsed into heavy silence. Wherever she went Gervaise saw these women on sentry-go in the night, as if women were planted all along the outer boulevards. She always found one twenty paces away from another, in a line stretching on for ever, guarding Paris. (pp. 398-99)

Considerable problem for workers was the seasonal nature of much work. Example of seamstresses who worked 14 hours per day but only between March-April-May and Sepember to January (i.e. 8 months of the year). Had to compete with low wage, subsidised convent workshops where the annual pay was only F150.

D. Conclusion

Women had to contend with two fundamental restrictions on the kind of labour they could engage in.

  • The idea of "domesticity" or the idea that women, especially bourgeois women, should not work outside the home.
  • The idea that the liberal professions (law, medecine) were not "suitable work for women. In these professions, males began to close ranks in order to deny women access by introducing formal training, professional standards, stricter entry requirements, state licenses for careers in medecine, law and education. Especially ture for midwifery which male doctors saw as a threat to their monopoly.

One of the demands of liberal middle class feminists was that all these careers be opened to them.



XVI. WOMEN II: The Ideal of Domesticity and its Opponents in 19th Century France

A. Summary

B. The Concept of Domesticity

Important concept which defined anture of women's work. Based on a range of arguments about

  • woman's nature (maternity, service, nurturing)
  • God's commands
  • historical evidence of past and present practices
  • immorality of factory labour

Common assumption of both supporters and opponents of feminism in the 19thC was that the "maternal instinct" of women was the primary determinant of their behaviour. Example, although JS Mill, a supporeter of legal and political rights for women, believed that women should have the legal right and the opportunity to work outside the home, he maintained that most women would choose to remain in the home.

Many reformers who were concerned about the condition of women factory workers expressed worry that "mixed" labour (i.e. men and women or boys and girls together in same workshop/factory) encouraged promiscuity. This was an issue that reformers focussed on time and again. Example of liberal reformer Louis Villermé in Tableau de l'état physique et moral des ouvriers employés dans les manufactures de coton, de laine et de soie 2 vols (1840), commented on the neglect of domestic affairs and the promiscuity of working women in the Lille factories:

Are you then ignorant of the licentious discourses which this mixture (of men and women workers) provokes, of the lessons of bad morals which result..., and the driving passions which you encourage as soon as their voice begins to make itself heard (i.e. onset of puberty)... You will never be allowed to escape the reproach of having allowed girls to be lost whose morals you could have saved by wise and honest precautions (Rendall, p. 196)

Another example is Jules Simon (mentioned in last lecture) who believed that "a woman, once become a worker, is no longer a woman..." He denounced the spread of "concubinage" (i.e. couples living together without being married) and concluded that "there is nothing that the imagination could add to the ravages of prostitution and incest in our great industrial towns." (Rendall, p. 196)

Final example is Émile Zola's depiction of working women in Germinal (1885) about life in the coal mines of northern France. What shocked the bourgeois readers were his realistic descriptions of how women coal miners would strip to the waist like their male co-workers to endure the underground heat, and how, in the cramped living conditions of the mining towns, borders like the hero of the novel Étienne Lantier were forced to sleep in a room together with all members of the family, where they would wash and dress themselves in each others' sight.

Following example of the behaviour which so shocked readers in novel Germinal because it clashed with the commonly accepted view of domesticity as the ideal for women. Reaction against idea of women working alongside and behaving in same way as male co-workers. Description of young teenage girl Catherine in her first week of work as a miner. Her task was to push loaded carts along a rail inside the mine. EZ intersperses his realistic description of life in the mines, and some scientific and technical information about mining with the struggles of the young woman to cope in the difficult conditions underground:

At Jean-Bart (the name of a mine) Catherine had been pushing her carts to the relay point for an hour, and she was so soaked in sweat that she had to stop for a moment to mop her face.
Chaval, hacking away at the vein with the rest of his team at the bottom of the stall, was surprised at no longer hearing the rumble of the wheels. The lamps were burning badly, and the coal dust was too thick for him to be able to see.
"What's the matter?" he shouted.
When she replied that she was about to melt and that her heart was ready to give out, he replied furiously:
"Idiot, do what we've done! Take off your shirt."...
Catherine, who had already taken off her jacket, hesitated, then took off her trousers too; with her arms and thighs now bare, her shift tied around her waist like a blouse with a piece of cord, she went back to her hauling.
"Well, it should be more comfortable like this," she said aloud...
At the relay point, 264 feet from the stall, another haulage girl took the cart and pushed it 264 feet farther - right to the foot of the inclined plane - so the receiver could send it off with the others coming from the galleries above.
"Well, you really make yourself at home!" said the other woman, a scrawny widow of thirty, when she saw Catherine in her shift. "I can't do that - the boys on the incline are always after me with their dirty tricks."
"Oh," the young girl replied, "I can't worry about the men, I'm too uncomfortable!" (Germinal, pp. 245-7)

The ideal of domesticity, where ther was no place for women who worked in mines, was spread by the church, by the schools and by novels and ever increasingly popular "how to" books read by middle class women. E.G. Dr Bull's Hints to Mothers (London, 1833) and the British Mother's Magazine (1845-1863) in England and similar books in France. E.G. Gustave Droz, Monsieur, Madame et bébé (Paris, 1866) which became a bestseller in France and went through 121 editions between 1866 and 188? In addition to recommending the ideal of domestic life for women it was also a early and rudimentary form of sex guide (which might explain its popularity in country dominated by the conservative Catholic Church). One unusual feature of Dr Droz's advice to couples is that he also recommended that love was an important part of domestic living at a time when marriages were often made for financial or other reasons.

There was an economic component to the ideal of domesticity. Women who stayed at home to care for the children were now important consumers in the developing consumer economy of the mid-19thC. In particular the middle class housewife gradually became the administrator of the household, while the husband worked away from home, and became a powerful consumer with her shopping. Goods from the new factories were produced especially for the household and extensively advertised in the new domestic magazines and manuals (crude versions of modern day New Idea, Woman's Day and Women's Weekly and served same purpose - reinforce the ideal of domesticity and to sell consumer products to the housewives). These magazines reflected the growth of the middle class and the development of a consumer society. Introduction of hire-purchase to enable housewives to stock their home with items such as cast-iron stoves, bathtubs, cooking utensils, kitchen gadgets, pottery, furnishings, carpets and curtains. Example of manuals which recommmended that the middle class home be stocked with these items are:

  • J. Walsh, Manual of Domestic Economy (1853) which was specifically written for middle class families with a disposable income of between 100-1,000 pounds. He insisted on an "appropriate" standard of living with its related level of furnishings for each level of income.
  • French example was Cora-Elisabeth Millet-Robinet's La maison rustique des dames (1844-5), although written for country women was immensely popular with urban women in France. An early form of the Laura Ashley country look?

C. "La Querrelle des Femmes": the Ideal of Domesticity and its Critics in the Second Empire - Proudhon vs Juliette Lambier

As mentioned in last lecture, French feminism was vigorous and growing in 1840s, but following failure of the 1848 revolution and the coming to power of the reactionary Napoleon III (coup d'état in 1851) many feminists were imprisoned or exiled. The 1850s and 1860s were a period of consolidation of the position of the anti-feminists, who stressed the importance of the values of domesticity. Two of the most important and influential advocates of domesticity were

  • the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-65), who influenced working class attitudes towards women. Works dealing with women: De la Justice dans la Révolution et dans l'église (On Justice in the Revolution and in the Church) (1858), and a postumous work La pornocratie our les femmes dans le temps modernes (Pornocracy, or Women in Modern Times) (1875).
  • the republican historian Jules Michelet (1798-1874), whose popular histories and other books influenced the middle class. Works: History of the French Revolution (1847), Le Peuple (The People) (1846), L'Amour (Love) (1858), and La Femme (Women) (1859).

What was left of the feminist movement had dispersed but continued to attend liberal salons in Paris. Two of the most influential critics of Proudhon and Michelet were Juliette Lambier (Adam), who wrote Idées anti-proudhoniennes sur l'amour, la femme et le mariage (AntiProudhonian Ideas on Love, Women and Marriage) (1858) and Jenny d'Héricourt, who wrote La femme affranchie: Réponse à Mm Michelet, Proudhon, E. de Girardion, A. Comte et aux autres novateurs modernes (The Liberated Woman: A Reply to Messrs Proudhon, Michelert et al.) (1860).

D. Proudhon's Anti-Feminism

Proudhon is important because of the considerable influence on French working class. Much more influential than Karl Marx. P's anarchism was based upon the idea of small independent producers who owned and lived in their own workshops. These workshops were to be a family affair, where the wife and children would work under the direction of the husband (compare with Napoleon's ieal of family as microcosm of empire with husband as Emperor. P's ideal was family as factory with husband as factory owner). Emanciapation of women from domestic bond would destroy this kind of family-based production upon which P's political theories depended. In his influential 1840 work What is Property? he argued that women were a different race to men (compare with conservative Catholic Bonald - women as "homme-enfant"). Note his bleak view of relationship betweeen men and women. P would prefer to exclude woman from society rather than free her:

Between woman and man there may exist love, passion, ties of custom, and the like; but there is no real society. Man and woman are not companions. The difference of the sexes places a barrier between them, like that placed between animals, by a diffference of race. Consequently, far from advocating what is now called the emancipation of women, I should incline, rather if there were no other alternative, to exclude her from society. (Moses, p. 152)

P increased his attacks on feminism throughout the 1850s and 1860s and this found a ready audience in the more conservative atmosphere of the Second Empire. In De la justice there are 2 chapters on the family and women where he argues that:

  • females are physically inferior to men and thus are "a sort of middle ground between (man) and the rest of the animal kingdom"
  • following on from this, that lower wages for women were a result of this weaker physical strength. P believed that it was just that women should receive half the wages of a man. Each person, he thought
either in the family or in the workshop functions and works according to the strength that he posseses, the effect of that is yielded will be in the same proprtion, three to two... (Moses, p. 155).
  • In addition women were morally inferior, an inferiority which education could not erase. It was innate because
genius is... virility of the spirit, its power of abstraction, of generalization, of invention, of conceptualisation, which the child, the eunuch, and women are equally lacking.

The result of this physical, economic and moral inferiority for P was a harsh theory of domesticity (again compare with Bonald). Classic split between public and private:

Once the household is established, man is charged with work, production, exterior relations; woman is charged with the administration of the interior. The division is determined by the respective qualities of the spouses. To the strongest, activity, battle, movement; to her who shines and her loves, but who should shine only for her husband, love only him, domestic cares, peace, and the modesty of the hearth (compare Zola). Both are responsible and free in their duties; however, the husband will have the right of control over the wife, whereas the wife only has that of helping, advising and informing the husband. (p. 156)

E. The Liberal Feminist Response to Proudhon and the Ideal of Domesticity

One of P's best critics was Juliette Lambier, born in 1836, daughter of a doctor active in liberal republican politics in Picardy. JL became active in Saint-Simonian cirlces when she came to Paris in the mid-1850s (SS attracted both socialist and liberal supportss). Published Anti-Proudhonian Ideas (1858) only 4 months after appearance of P's attack on women in In Justice.

JL attacked P's idea of the family and industrial relations based on strength rather than justice. Condemned P and all other advocates of domesticity for developing a theory to rationalise exploitation of women:

(P) express(ed) the universal feeling of men who, no matter what party they belong to... would be delighted if a way were found to reconcile both their selfishness and their conscience into a system that would permit them to preserve the benefits of exploitation based on strength, without fear of protests based on right. (Moses, p. 163)

JL developed a series of arguments against the importance of superior male physical strength.

  • JL believed other attributes such as grace, beauty and resilience were important
  • that the need physical strength in work was becoming less relevant in the industrial age when machines could do more tasks formerly done by men.
  • Jl pointed out that the physically strongest men were not the most powerful. E.G. the government was not run by the physically strongest men.

Like most feminists of her time, JL accepted the idea that there were sexually based differences between men and women which determined the kinds of work they could do. Where she differed was that JL believed "feminine" aspects of labour necessary to proper functioning of the economy and that an increasing number of economic tasks formerly the exclusive monopoly of men could and should be done by women as a result of economic and technological change. In the new industrial age, women could participate more and still be true to their feminine "nature."

Woman supplies society with other elements than supplied by man, but that are no less indispensable. It is the agreement between feminine elements and masculine elements that provides social harmony, and it is their blending that determines humanity's progress. (p. 164).

Concerning the need for sex-specific jobs in the economy JL accepted a traditional division of labour according to sex, based essentially on physical strength, but believed that this would change as machines transformed the nature of labour. Important idea of the "femininsation" of occupations by machinery which would gradually breakdown traditional stereotypes of female labour.

As for that which pertains to professions, I see some that suit women as there are some that suit men. So those professions that demand strength should remain the lot of the stronger sex, and that those that demand taste, tact, and dexterity, should be as much as possible attributed to the weaker sex. The trades of mason, carpenter, joiner, locksmith are obviously male trades, but those of sewing, retail trade, those of milliner and florist are certainly female professions, and ther are a lot of others that one could, without inconvenience, add to these last ones as machinery transforms them and feminises them by equalising them. (pp. 164-5)

Although JL paid lip service to the traditional sex-stereotyping of careers in passages like the one above, her arguments in favour of women really undercut this traditional view and make her a true feminist.

JL makes three important points about the increasing number and kinds of jobs suitable for women:

  • that the introduction of machinery "femininises" traditional male dominated jobs. This process was only just beginning to take place in the 1850s and 1860s and seemed to have no end in sight.
  • that the expansion of educational opportunities for women would lead to their "liberation."
  • that individual diversity made a nonsense of sexually determined job classifications.

Already mentioned JL's view of the role of machinery in expanding the kinds of jobs women would be able to do.

Concerning education, JL called for equal access for women to education (and also the medical profession and government administration. Held the quite radical view that there was nothing in a woman's nature to prevent her being a successful mayoress.) JL believed that education held the key to a greater career choice for women. Compare her explicit rejection of Bonald's view of women as "dolls."

Since the education given to women is only good for making dolls of them, does one have the right to be surprised that they end up, poor creatures, by taking seriously the stupid role that they have been taught since childhood. (Moses, p. 165).

JL rejected arguments of the anti-feminists that paid or professional work destroyed one's femininity, rather it would lead to the liberation of women by giving them access to fulfilling and better paid careers.

Work alone has emancipated man and work alone will emancipate woman.

Concerning individual diversity. What makes JL different from earlier French feminism (such as the Saint-Simonian inspired feminism) is her liberal individualism. Although she had argued that women have a particular nature which suited them to particualr jobs, she now undermines this claim with the argument that individuals (whether men or women) are so different that it is impossible to classify them into set occupations or jobs by sex alone. Rather she believes that some jobs are best suited to those individuals with more feminine attributes and that other jobs to those with masculine attributes. However, men do not all have only masculine attributes and all women only feminine attributes. Each individual has a mixture of the two and the job best suited to their mix of attributes is for that individual to determine for themselves.

Every human being has aptititudes that are (their) own... Among these aptitudes, some have a masculaine character and some have a feminine character. Nothing is simpler than to classify social occupations under one or the other lable; but one must guard against giving all the masculine qualities to all the men, and all the feminine qualities to all the women. In application we find many exeptions. Thus muscular strength is predominant in man but there are many women who are more nergetic than certain men. The exceptions are even more numerous in the intellectual domain. There are male intelligences among women and it isn't rare to encounter men who have qualities of delicacy, keen shrewdness, taht are more often the endowments of the weaker sex. The same can be said of sentiment...
If it is therefore useful, with respect to social organisation, to be aware of the occupations that portray the feminine element and tose that portray the masculine element, it would, however, be very dangerous to freedom to try to determine in advance the respective roles of men and women and to imprison either in occupations imposed by their respective sex. (Moses, pp. 166-7)

F. Key Passages in John Stuart Mill's The Subjection of Women (1869)

All references to the Virago edition edited by Kate Soper

  • the legal subordination of women is wrong in itself and is one of the chief hindrances to human improvement, p 1
  • inequality of rights between men and women has no other source than the law of the strongest, pp. 10-11
  • women form a subject-class which is the interest of most males to maintain, pp. 18-21
  • the education of women is designed to enslave their minds, p. 27
  • the subjection of women is a relic of the past and violates individual freedom, pp. 29-31
  • the idea of the nature of women is an artifical construct distorted by forced repression and unnatural stimulation, p. 38-9
  • the true nature of women will be determined by women themsleves by their own experience and faculties, p. 48
  • comparison of the subjection of women to tariffs - JSM does not want legislation to favour women but the repeal of all bounties and protective duties in favour of men, to enable the free play of competition, pp. 48-9
  • marriage should be a partnership or contract based upon voluntary mutual consent, including the division of household duties and functions, pp. 72-7• However, still believes most suitable division of labour is the working man and housewife, pp. 87-88
  • equality of married persons before the law promotes justice, happiness and morality, pp. 78-9
  • the power of earning is essential to the dignity of a woman, pp. 89-90
  • women should have the right to vote, pp. 95-6
  • the privileged position of men has a corrupting influence on them, pp. 148-51
  • the opening of all occupations to women will double the mass of mental faculties available for the higher service of humanity, pp. 153-4



XVII. SLAVERY I: The Atlantic Slave Trade in the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries

A. Summary

B. Introduction

Owning and trading in slaves has a long and well-established history. The classic slave societies are still considered to be ancient Greece and Rome. Societies based upon slave labour in agriculture, domestic service and some industry. Great historian of classical slavery, Moses Finley argued that

  • "there were no activities in which slaves were not engaged other than political and military"
  • and that there was not a simple distinction between slave and free status but a continuum of dependent status which included many degrees of unfreedom: from chattle slaves to various semi-slave states to debt and agricultural bondage (such as "helots" of Sparta) to "free."
  • slavery was not a matter of colour but of legal status. Freedmen not distinguishable by their skin colour from those born free.

Modern slavery different from classical slavery in number of ways:

  • instead of a continuum of dependent status from free to slave there was a bunching at the two extremes. Many intermediate forms of bondage had been abolished (serfdom, debt bondage, indentured servitude) although serfdom still existed in central and eastern Europe, convictism in Australia, Blackbirding in south Pacific, etc. Women had what one could call a legally dependent status which was neither completely free nor chattel slave.
  • question of colour had become more important as white Christian slavery disappeared. In ancient Rome freed slaves could easily be assimilated into broader Roman society. Freed slaves in America retained the distinctive evidence of their previous status (i.e. the colour of their skin). Thus race and colour prejudice prevented assimilation of freed slaves into American society. Major concern of Tocqueville and Beaumont which we will discuss in next lecture.

The Middle Ages inherited many ancient Roman ideas and institutions including about slavery and bondage. Slave trade active in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea, involved slaves of both Christain and Muslim background. Many black slaves transported across Sahara to Meditierranean for use as bondsmen in Spain or on sugar plantations in Cyprus. Extensive "Islamic" slave trade by 16th. Gradually replaced in imporetance by emerging European sea powers - Spain, Portugal and Britain. One of first to develop slave trade were Portuguese who sent explorers down west coast of Africa in 15th C. Sea-borne slave trade conducted by Europeans gradually replaced trans-saharan trade of Islamic traders. Cheaper transport and cut out Islamic middle-men.

C. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

The discovery of the New World in America and the development of mines and plantations in Brazil, and the Caribbean (islands and litoral of central America) occured at a time when Spain and Portugal had already a well-developed heritage of slave trading and had recently opened up a completely new source of supply of slaves in West Africa.

Reason for resorting to slave labour in American colonies was because of the incapacity or outright refusal of native Americans to endure forced labour. Slaves introduced to south American states in the 17th C. The British Royal African Company founded in 1672 as chartered company (i.e. monopoly from the crown) to supply slaves to America. Continued to be active in the trade in the 18thC but specialised in maintaining a series of forts on the Gold Coast in West Africa. In 18thC actual trade carried out by private traders operating out of London, Bristol, Liverpool and Lancaster. Liverpool became the most important slave port in the 18thC and British became the main suppliers to all the major slave societies in Spanish America.

Overhead of map of trade.

Important fact about Atlantic slave trade was that is was "triangular":

  • sale of light manufactured goods in Africa (cotton cloth, brandy, muskets, earthenware
  • sale of slaves in America
  • sale of plantation products (cotton, tobacco, sugar) in Europe.

Capital needed to fund a slave ship was about 8,500 pounds in late 18thC. Capital ususally came from a small number of partnerships which specialised in slave trade. Average return was about 10% on capital. An anonymous author in 1797 estimated that in Liverpool between 1783-93 30% of the slaving partnerships controlled about 57% of ships. Significant degree of concentration. In Liverpool in late 18thC 80% of the ship owners were merchants and 12-13% of the ships' captains had shares in their own voyages. Conclusion that slave trade was self-financing from profits of previous voyages.

Two routes to Africa to pick up slaves - the "petite" and the "grande" route (see map). Lasted between 5 and 15 weeks to gather cargo of slaves along West African coast. Traders dealt with government agencies who set up forts and trading posts on coast, resident European traders who bought or captured slaves in the hinterland, and Muslim African traders who operated under the control of the existing African political authorities. In absence of common currency the standard of value for trade was the "bar" which was the raw material used in iron or copper manufacture. Sometimes pieces of cloth used as currency. In Senegal the value of a European musket was 8 bar. The price of a slave was between 60-80 bar.

There was a complex commercial infrastructure in West Africa which enabled some 11,698,000 slaves to be exported to the Americas between 1450-1900.

See Overhead of Table 1.1

In East Africa and Sahara trade Muslim traders predominated. Slightly different in West Africa. Considerable rivalry between local African states who tried to administer the slave trade with the Europeans. Many interlopers, African and European, tried to break these local monopolies. Result was a very competitve market.

Study of the volume of trade shows how important 18thC was and how importance of Islamic traders declined and European (especially British) increased.

Overhead of table showing countries involved in slave trade in 18thC. Britain highest number (2.5 million) followed by Portuguese 1.8m) and France (1.2m).

Overhead of map of West Africa showing number of slaves taken from each region.

Most important source of slaves were Angola and Congo, Gulf of Benin, Gold Coast, Bight of Biafra (Niger Delta). See map.

See illustrations (2) of how slaves confined in slave ship.

Once enough slaves had been accumulated to begin voyage the ship set out on "middle passage" to America. Slaves shackled together on board off the coast. Key problem for the captain was storage, security and health of his valuable cargo of slaves. The slaves were stored on horizontal shelves with about 2 1/2 feet of headroom. There were separate store rooms for men, women and children. Before regulations were introduced in 1780 merchants calculated a slave ship could carry 2 slaves per ton of ship. Government regulations reduced this to 1 per ton. For security, the slaves were shackled in pairs (women and boys were not shackled) and tied together by long chains.

To maintain health of slaves during passage they were fed twice a day. Daily rations on middle passage from a ship's log in 178? Each slave given

  • 3lb 10oz yams
  • 10oz biscuit
  • 3 1/2oz beans
  • 2 oz flour
  • an unspecified amount of salt beef
  • 3 out of 5 days plaintain or Indian corn
  • mouthwash of lime juice to prevent scurvy (lack of vitamin C)
  • water

Slaves forced to exercise at point of whip on deck of ship in order to amintain physical condition for sale. Slaves kept on deck during the day. Returned below decks after eating evening meal. Mortality rate on voyage. Example based on evidence given to Privy Council Committee in 1789 from master's and surgeon's logs and Customs entries in West Indies. Historian Anstey concludes that mortality rate between 1761-1807 dropped from 9.6 to 2.7%. Some curious facts illustrate general brutality of sea life to put these figures in perspective. Crew sometimes treated worse than slaves (slaves more valuable). Crew beaten and forced to use similar quarters. Thomas Clarkson, leading British abolitonist, conlcuded that death rate among crew sometimes twice that of slave cargo. Incentives to maintain health of slaves (but not crew) was loss of commission for captain and surgeon. Abolitionists focussed on maltreatment in order to drum up support for cause. Examples such as the captain of the ship "Zadig" who in 1781 threw 132 of slave cargo overboard because of threat of epidemic on board. Also in 19thC after British had outlawed slave trade but French had not, British navy used to inspect and seize French slave ships. To avoid capture some French captains threw their entire cargo overboard.

On arrival in Americas sale of slaves usually handled by special agents. Sometimes captain would hold auction or sell slaves at a fixed price. Latter was called a "scramble" which Anstey describes as

a free-for-all whereby slaves were sold at one price and, at a given signal, the prospective purchasers rushed on board the ship, seized what they could and encircled their purchases with a piece of cloth. (p. 35)

Price of slaves varied according to supply and demand, age, sex, and condition of slaves. Estimated average prices fetched by British slavers between 1761-1807 when total exported about 3.7 million (p. 47).

1761-70 29 pounds

1771-80 35

1781-90 36

1790s 50

1801-07 60

Profitability of slave trade disputed. Estimates range from 140% to 30-40% (commonly cited figure). Marxist critics (e.g. Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (1944)) argue that it was so profitable that it helped finance the industrial revolution.

The triangular trade made an enormous contribution to Britain's industrial development. The profits from this trade fertilised the entire productive system of the country. (quoted in Anstey, p. 41).

Key to profitability were the costs involved and prices paid for slaves. 18-20% of costs went to pay commissions of captain, surgeon, slave seller. Another 10-11% went to pay interest on bill a of exchange (sometimes took 2 years before repaid). And cost of running ship which ranged 45-55 pounds per ton of ship.

Anstey conlcudes that the average rate of return on slave trade was less than 10%. Thomas Clarkson estaimated that when price of slaves was low, 1763-77, Liverpool slave traders actually running at a loss. Estimates that total profits of trade were about 9 million pounds or annual 200,000 pounds.

D. The Slave Trade in the 19thC

The forced transport of blacks from Africa to the Americas was the largest migration before Europeans migrated voluntarily in the mid 19thC to USA, Canada, South America, and Australia. Some attempt to end slavery by ending slave trade (hope to dry up source of slaves). USA tried to abolish slave trade in 1791, 1794, and again in 180? Denmark 1802, Britian 180? British then tried to put pressure on other European nations to end trade. Navy used to enforce abolition off African coast. Blocade became increasingly effective during the 19thC , especially after 1840.

Overhead of Table 7.4 showing numbers os slaves in Atlantic Slave trade 1801-186? Peak reached in 1821-43 with 1.5 million. Total 3.2 million.

Total exports in 19thC some 5, 442,000 (2 million less than in 18thC). About 3,330,000 slaves shipped across Atlantic. In 18thC 6, 133,000 shipped (decline of 46% over 18thC). Price of slaves in Africa dropped as a result of abolitionist pressure. Prices on Gold Coast dropped from 45 pounds in 1781, to 32 pounds in 1803, to 10 pounds in 181? Various attempt by some European nations still engaged in slave trade to subvert prohibition and blocade by British Navy, especialy by French and Portuguese traders. Use of legalisms such as to call slaves "contract labourers" (or "engagés à temps"). Blacks who were supposed to have signed a contract for 14 years of labour virtual slaves. After 1848 when slavery officially abolished in French colonies some 20, 426 blacks taken from Senegal and Gabon between 1854-186? Also from south east Africa to serve in French colony in Indian Ocean, Réunion. 1848-1861 33,958 slaves or contract labourers. Even the British used subterfuge. Claimed to have recruited soldiers for service in the West Indies from West Arica. These numbered a few thousand. French persistence in the slave trade in the 1830s and 1840s led to hostility and several diplomatic incidents as a result of British Navy searching and seizing French vessels.

Discuss in next lecture the French abolitionist movement from Enlightenment to its eventual abolition in 1848 Revolution.



XVIII. SLAVERY II: French Abolitionist Thought

A. Summary

B. Introduction: The Emergence of Abolitionist Thought in the Enlightenment

Leading figures of the Enlightenment became interested in the issue of slavery because it exposed problems which were central to their conception of human dignity and freedom. Slavery was incompatible with the philosophe's basic principle of individual libertty (essentially liberal). Slave trade and use of slave labour in French colonies and in America became a symbol of the various restrictions on individual liberty which philosophes criticised within France itself, such as peasant bondage, remnants of serfdom within France.

Slavery attacked in

  • articles in the Encyclopédie by the Chevalier de Jaucourt - "Slavery" (1755) and "Slave Trade" (1765).
  • Voltaire's satire of 18thC life and society, Candide (1759).
  • Guillaume Raynal (Abbé), Histoire philosophique des deux Indes (Philosophical History of the Two Indies) (1772). Important and early form of travel literature which doubled as anthropology and history. One of the most thorough-going enlightened attack on slavery and colonialism.

1. Jaucourt on Slavery

J's articles in E reached a wide audience of the literate class in French-speaking Europe. Believed in basic principle of enlightened thought that "all men are created equal" and

If a commerce of this kind can be justified by a moral principle, then there is no crime, however atrocious, that cannot be legitimate. (Hunting, p. 411).

Argued that economic benefits from colonies were no justification of slavery. Compared colonial slave masters to highway robbers.

You might say that these colonies would be quickly ruined, if negro slavery were to be abolished. Well, should this be so, must we conclude from it that mankind has to be horribly wronged in order to make us rich or provide us with luxuries? It is true that the purses of the highway robbers would be empty if thefts were absolutely suppressed; but do men have the right to grow richer in a cruel and criminal way? What right has a bandit to rob passers-by? Who is permitted to become affluent by making his fellow men miserable? Can it be considered lawful to deprive mankind of its most sacred rights for the sole purpose of gratifying one's greed, vanity and idiosyncracies? No... let European colonies perish rather than have so many suffer. (Hunting, p. 415)

Compare this natural rights objection to slavery with the utilitarian arguments used by Tocqueville who was concerned about the welfare of the slave-owing planters, the prosperity of the colonies, and the supply of labour, if slavery was abolished.

Jaucourt believed slavery had not contributed to prosperity but had hampered economic development in America. Setting slaves free would soon result in greater industry and prosperity for all the settlers.

2. Voltaire on Slavery

Overhead and handout of engraving from Candide.

In Candide, passage dealing with maiming of slave in Dutch Surinam in South America. V ridiculed argument that slavery was a useful method of introducing blacks to Christianity. Exposed hypocracy of using religion to justify an activity which was essentially commercial in nature. Candide and his companions Pangloss and Cacambo, are looking for El Dorado in South America when they come across maimed slave:

Handout of quote and engraving.

As they were approaching the town, they noticed a negro lying full length at the side of the road and wearing nothing but a pair of blue canvas drawers. The poor fellow had no left leg and no right hand. Candide addressed him in Dutch:
'What are you doing here, my friend?' he asked. 'And what a dreadful state you are in!'
'I'm waiting for my master, Mr. Vanderdendur, who owns the famous sugar works,' replied the negro.
'Did Mr. Vanderdendur treat you like this?' asked Candide.
'Yes, Sir,' said the negro, 'it's the custom. For clothing, we are given a pair of canvas drawers twice a year. Those of us who work in the factories and happen to catch a finger in the grindstone have a hand chopped off; if we try to escape, they cut off one leg. Both acidents happened to me. That's the price of your eating sugar in Europe. My mother sold me on the coast of Guiana for fifty Spanish shillings. When she parted with me, she said: "Always honour and ador your fetishes, my dear boy, and they will make you happy; you have the honour of being a slave for milords the white men, and that is how you will make your parents' fortune." I don't know whether I made their fortune,' he continued, with a shake of his head, 'but they certainly did not make mine. Dogs, monkeys, and parrots are much less miserable than we are. The Dutch fetishes, who converted me, tell me every Sunday that we are all children of Adam, black and white alike. I am no genealogist; but if these preachers speak the truth, we must all be cousins. Now, you will surely agree that relations could not be treated more horribly.'
'Oh, Pangloss!' cried Candide. 'A scandal like this never occured to you! But it is the truth, and I shall have to renounce the optimism of yours in the end.'
'What is optimism?' asked Cacambo.
'It's the passion for maintaining that all is right when all goes wrong with us,' replied Candide, weeping as he looked at the negro. And with tears in his eyes, he pursued his way to Surinam. (Penguin ed, pp. 85-6)

C. Abolitionist Organisations in France from 1788-1848

Four groups which agitated for abolition of slavery on the moral, economic and religious grounds outlined above.

  • the "Société des amis des noirs" (Society of the friends of the blacks) 1788-1793
  • the "Coppet Circle" organised by Madame de Staël at her chateau in Coppet, Switzerland.
  • the "Société de la morale chrétienne" (Society for Christian Morality) liberal Protestant group active 1822-1848
  • and the "Société pour l'abolition de l'esclavage" (Society for the abolition of Slavery) 1834-48

1. the "Société des amis des noirs" (Society of the friends of the blacks) 1788-1793

Formed by liberals in late enlightenment. Strategy was to use literary propaganda and to work for gradual and controlled emancipation. Founded by Clavière in 1788, active until 1793 (Terror and overthrow of liberal Girondin faction during Revolution), temporarily revived in 179? Modelled on British Quaker anti-slavery society founded in 1783 and headed by Thomas Clarkson. Members included Condorcet, who lampooned slavery in works written by Pastor Schwarz/Black; Clavière, future finance minister during revoluton; Brissot, leader of the Girondin faction. 90 founding memebers drawn mainly from liberal aristocratic and moderate bourgeoisie. Society dispersed by victory of the Jacobins and execution of Girondins. Clavière defined the rather conservative and non-revolutionary aims of the Society for gradual reforms which would lead the slaves slowly to freedom. Aim of society was to reform

by education which would give them (the slaves) a homeland and rules which would give them an interest in the soil. (Berchthold, p. 172).

Reason for cautious approach to problem of freeing the slaves in French colonies was due to fear of violence, which haunted all French attempts at abolition until 1848. In 1790 slaves on Caribbean island of Martinique rebelled. Followed in 1791 in St. Domingo (Haiti). French law on slaves in the colonies regulated by "le code noir" of 1685 during Louis XIV's reign. Temporarily suspended when slavery abolished between 4 February 1794 (Constitutional Convention) and Napoleon's decree of May 17, 1802 reimposing slavery. Abolitionist cause complicated by three factors:

  • the bloody Haitian revolt, independent in 1798 and murder of white plantation owners. Proved that abolition could have bloody consequences.
  • the occupation of French Caribbean by British in war against French Revolution. Abolition seen as a pro-British plot to deprive France of its empire.
  • the restoration of slavery by Napoleon in 180? Signalled the failure of the organised abolitionist movement in France

2. the "Coppet Circle" - Madame de Staël

During anti-liberal reaction of Napoleonic years major refuge for persecuted liberals was Madame de Staël's chateau in Switzerland, Coppet. Focal point for much opposition to Napoleon and certain social causes sush as aboliton of slavery. S interested in salvery. In 1795 published an anti-slavery novel Mirza (compare with Beaumont's novel Marie (1835) for use of literature to espouse political views, reach wider audience?). Hero of Mirza is freed slave who has feelings and attitudes of a highly civilised individual (itself a radical position to take). S argues that the free cultivation of sugar by black farmers is not only possible but necessary if slavery is to be successfully abolished. Took courageous stand of continuing to defend abolition in spite of bloody Haitian slave rebellion. Justified violence towards slave owners by pointing out it was an inevitable reaction to their oppression. In her famous history of the French Revolution from a liberal perspective, Considérations sur la Révolution française (1818), S argued that the violence of a slave revolt is in direct proportion to the injustice the slaves suffered under:

If the negroes of St. Domingo have committed even more atrocities (than say the Jacobins, her political enemies) it is because they have been more oppressed (than the French people). The fury of those who revolt reveals the extent of the vice of the institutions (they live under). (Berchthold, p. 174)

In collaboration with her daughter, who translated into French William Wilberforce's abolitionist book on the slave trade, S published in 1814 a preface, the Préface à un ouvrage de M. Wilberforce, in which she outlined her views on slavery in more detail. As with the issue of free trade in the 1840s, S had to overcome the problem of the indifference of the French public to such matters. Aim was to show how leading British politicians and reformers took an active interest in the problem of black slavery. Also aimed to show that French abolitionists were not in the pay of the British government to undermine French empire. Challenged pro-slavery argument that the social order, political stability and economic prosperity of France depended on the maintenance of slavery in the colonies with argument that vested interests always cloak their own self-interest behind public interest:

Whenever one proposes to suppress some or another abuse, those who benefit from this abuse never fail to claim that all the benefits of social order are dependent upon it. They say it is the linch-pin whilst it is only the key to their own advantage. (B, p. 174)

S died in 1817 but the weak French abolitionist movement continued through the activities of her associates Benjamin Constant, Simonde de Sismondi and others who eventually created the Society for Christian Morality in 1821.

3. Benjamin Constant on Slavery

BC one of the leading liberal journalists during the restoration period. Attacked slavery in journal, La Minerve, as an obstacle to all civilisation in Africa. Attacked government for not enforcing laws against slave trade agreed to in Treaty of Paris in 181? Government tolerated trade, knew about times of departure of all slave ships in French ports, because plantation owners supported restored monarchy. According to Treaty of Paris France agred to limit slave trade to its own colonies and to abolish trade in 1819.

More extensive treatment of slavery in chapter "De la traite des nègres" in Commentaire sur l'ouvrage de Filangieri (1822). BC observes that the ineffectual laws against the slave trade have in fact resulted in a worsening of the condition of the slaves. In order to escape pursuit and capture slaves now very poorly treated.

... it is due to the precautions necessary to elude (these laws)...
Since the slave trade was prohibited the vessels which are used in this commerce and which are constructed in such a way as to be able to escape more easily from any pursuit, are able to squeeze in a narrower space the captives, who nevertheless are much greater in number. The fear of inspections forces the captains of these vessels to lock up their prey in closed boxes where the eye of the inspectors cannot discover them. And when discovery is unavoidable, these boxes and the victims that they hide from view are thrown into the sea. (Commentaire, p. 5)

To avoid the increasing maltreatment of the blacks in the middle passage BC advocates the vigorous enforcement of the anti-slave trade law and with the imposition of much harsher penalties, such as the death penalty. BC explained the unwillingness of the government to prosecute slave traders as due to

  • the lack of popular intersest in slavery by the French people. Thus there was no popular pressure on the government, as the organised Quaker movement in Britain was able to exert.
  • the political weakness of reform-minded Protestants (the backbone of the British and later US abolitionist movement) in conservative and Catholic France. Catholics not involved in abolitionism until Papal encyclical of 1839.
  • the popular belief that British now favoured abolition of slavery for economic and imperial reasons rather than a matter of justice or humanity.
  • the power of the vested interests in the slave ports, e.g. Nantes. Power of this vested interest did not decline until domestic sugar beet industry developed to replace dependence on colonial sugar.

4. the "Société de la morale chrétienne" (Society for Christian Morality) 1822-1848

Protestant liberal group influenced by Enlightenment and Madame de Staël. Faced very difficult problem of attracting public interest in problem of slavery. As we have seen greatest difficulty was complicity of the restored monarchy in turning a blind eye to continuance of trade in spite of international treaties to contrary. Between 1814-1830 port of Nantes, in Bay of Biscaye on Atlantic coast, was centre of the illegal slave trade. Controled 43% of slave trade. 18% of all ships in port active in slave trade.

SMC founded in 1822 by a group of aristocratic liberals such as François Guizot, Benjamin Constant, Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer, Duc d'Oléans (future King Louis Philipe). Some 270 members in 182• Rose to 338 by 182? Obviously not a popular group but made of of educated and political elite. Early membership made up of 54 members of the government such as peers, deputies, heads of civil service and armed forces. All nobles. Also some 60 capitalists such as bankers, manufacturers (sugar beet industry). And 41 lawyers, 16 doctors, 6 actors, 25 churchmen. Latter included the president of the Consistory of the Reformed Chuich and the Pres. of the Consistory of the Protestant Church.

Strategy of the SMC was to distribute translations of English anti-slavery material (such as Clarkson and Wilberforce) which stressed the horrors of the slave trade and the immorality of the whites who were involved. Aimed to shock complacent French public into supporting abolition and to pressure government into enforcing existing measures against trade. Tried to borrow tactics of the British anti-slavery movement in order to make French movement a popular one. In May 1825 tried to get up an anti-slavery petition in Paris. August de Staël (Madame de S's son) used Clarkson's tactic of visiting slave ports (Nantes) to find documented proof of continuing slave trade. This proof passed onto royal family to put pressure on government to do something. Resulted in ministerial committee to investigate slave trade.

Another strategy was to encourage French works on slavery by offering prizes for original works. A prize of F1,000 was offered in 1822 for an essay on why the French public was indifferent to the issue of slavery and its suppression. SMC explained indifference as a result of

  • the actions of the government in promoting pro-slavery publications and the censorship imposed on anti-slavery works
  • the fact that the liberal movement during the French revolution who supported abolition had been politically defeated by radical Jacobins. Some like Condorcet killed. Others forced into exile. Thus continuity of movement broken.
  • abolitionism had been discredited by the bloody slave revolt in St. Domingo/Haiti. Pro-slavery advocates argued that a similar rebellion would result from any weakening of slavery in restoration. Abolitionists accused of being in facour of massacre of white plantation owners.
  • those members of the "Society of the Friends of the Blacks" who did manage to survive into restoration period, such as the Abbé Grégoire, were discredited because of their revolutionary past. Grégoire accused of disserting the church for the revolution, voting in favour of the execution of the king Louis XVI and supporting the Civil Code's restriction on the clergy.

Another strategy of the SMC was to use the influence of its aristocratic members in the parliament. Example, the Duc de Broglie became the leader of the abolitionist cause with a speech in Parliamnet in March 182? Later became involved in committee with Tocqueville to report of possibility of abolition in 1843.

D. Abolitionism during the July Monarchy 1830-1848

Ultimately SMC not successful in arousing public interest or in stopping monarch's support for trade. 1830 revolution brought to power Louis Philipe and a more liberal regime. Hopes for more success and new opportunities for reform of slavery. Catalyst for reform was action of the British Parliament in abolishing slavery in the colonies in 1833 after a period of 4-6 years of "apprenticeship." Great interest in this experiment shown by Tocqueville in his parliamentary report of 1839 - idea of transition stage between slavery and complete freedom in order to maintain some stability in colonies.

Importance of the British example to the French abolitionist movement was that it provided a counter example to the bloody revolt of St. Domingo. Liberation could be achieved without revolution and murder.

E. the "Société pour l'abolition de l'esclavage" (Society for the abolition of Slavery) 1834-48

In 1834 was founded the "Society for the Abolition of Slavery". President was the Duc de Broglie and many members of the SMC and included Montalembert, Hyppolite Passy, and Count Alexander Destutt de Tracy (who presented an abolition bill in the Chamber of Deputies in June 6, 1839 which was unsuccessful). Joined by Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont in 183? Again, not a mass movement. Strategy remained one of influencing political elite to introduce reform from above. Membership only by nomination by existing members with joining fee of F25 (equivalent to about 2 weeks income of labourer).

In the period between 1834 (founding of SAE) and 1848 (eventual abolition of slavery) most important abolitionist activity came from 3 sources:

  • Tocqueville and Beaumont's publications of Democracy in America (on problem of slavery and racism in America) and Marie (anti-slavery novel set in America) both in 1835.
  • Victor Schoelcher's writing. VS atheist journalist who became full-time abolitionist activist.
  • Tocqueville's committee work for the Chamber of Deputies on abolishing slavery.

F. Biography of Tocqueville and Beaumont

1. Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59)

Served as a magistrate at the Court of Versailles. Requested a leave of absence from the new liberal July Monarchy to go to America to study the new system of penitentiaries in order to reform French prison system. Commissioned by Minister of the Interior, Montalivet, to undertake offical investigation of American prison system. Went with his friend Gustave de Beaumont and arrived in US in May 1831 and stayed for 10 months. On return published official report Du système pénitentiaire aux États-Unis et son application en France (1833). But real reason for wanting to go to US was to study American democracy. AT believed that democracy was way of the future but had reservations about impact of individualism and democracy on social instututions. AT's analysis of democracy published in two volumes 1835, 1840: Democracy in America. Became his greatest work, widely read, quickly translated into English. Has become a classicaof sociological and political theory. In March 1839 AT elected to Chamber of Deputies with a majority of 80 votes to represent arrondissement of Valognes (La Manche). AT supported hereditary monarchy so long as it was limited by a liberal constitution. Was more of an independent liberal rather than adhering to any party group in Chamber. Wanted to provide an alternative to the conservative liberal status quo of Guizot and Thiers. Organised an opposition newspaper Le Commerce 1844-4?. Active in politics during the 1848 revolution. Wrote famous account of the revolution in Recollections. Contains important observations of how revoutions occur and take place. Interesting eye witness account by a liberal critical of much of the legislation undertaken by revolutionaries. After revolution AT retired from politics to write history of the French Revolution. First volume appeared in 1856 The Ancien Régime and the Revolution but he died before other volumes were completed.

2. Gustave de Beaumont (1802- )

Gustave Auguste de Beaumont de La Bonninière born February 6, 180• Pursued legal career and became magistrate during Restoration. Met fellow magistrate AT in 1825 and travelled with him to America in 183?. Drescher likens relationship between AT and GB to Marx and Engels.

To pursue the most obvious nineteenth-century analogy, Beaumont stand in much the same relationship to Tocqueville as Engles does to Marx. Although Beaumont cannot lay claim to as much intellectual stature as Engels, he acted as Tocqueville's alter-ego during his life, and as his literary executor after his more celebrated friend's death. (AT and GB on Social Reform, p. 202)

Book Marie went through 5 editions in 7 years after 1835, won Prix Montyon by the French Academy, helped get GB elected to Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in 184? Travelled to Ireland in 1835 and 1837 and wrote book, L'Irlande sociale, politique, et religieuse (1839) in which he attacked oppression of the Irish at hands of the British aristocracy. Elected to Chamber of Deputies in 1839 and remained there until Napoleon elected president in December 184• Appointed Ambassador to Vienna in 184• Political; career came to an end in December 1851 when AT and GB arrested with hundreds of other legislators for resisting coup d'état of Louis Napoleon.

a. Beaumont's Anti-Slavery Novel Marie

After AT's and GB's visit to America in 1831-32 the fruits of their observations appeared in 1835 with the first volume of AT's famous Democracy in America and GB's anti-slavery novel Marie, ou l'esclavage aux États-Unis, Tableau de moeurs américains. GB's book was very popular, being reprinted 5 times. Unfortunately not translated into English until recently and eventually forgotten.

Marie not just about slavery but the much deeper and continuing problem of racism in America. Marie is a part-white part-negro woman who falls in love with a Frenchman who has come to America (perhaps like GB and AT) to find democracy, liberty and individual happiness in the New World, away from the oppression of the Old World. However, Marie and her lover, Ludovic, experience racial persecutiopn, and even mob violence (based upon an actual incident in New York in 1834) before fleeing to the backwoods of Michigan. Marie dies tragically leaving Ludovic a disillusioned exile. In the course of relating the tragic story of marie and Ludovic GB is able to comment upon many apsects of American society, especially the situation of coloured minorites such as the blacks and the Indians. In an important "Appendix" to the novel GB attacks the main arguments used to justify slavery in America.

The natural inferiority of the black race. GB believes that blacks are potentially equal to whites but believes the blacks have degenerated because of social rather than racial causes. In other words, slavery is the cause of black degeneration not the color of their skin.

In fact, could it not be that the intelligence of the Negro is potentially equal to that of th white, and that it has degenerated through accidental causes? Since in maintaining a certain social status (i.e. slavery) the balck race has submitted for several centuries to a degrading condition transmitted from generation to generation - to a totally material existence, destructive of human intelligence - must it not result that for succeeding generations a progressive alteration in moral faculties, which, arrived at a certain degree, takes on the appearance of a special (of the race) characteristic, is considered as the Negro's natural states, though it is but a deviation? (Marie, p. 203)

Like Juliette Lambier on diversity of individual differences which make sexual characterisation almost impossible, GB believes that broad characterisations of different races cannot be accurate, given the great diversity of individuals.

In general, the question of superiority is decided by a single act: a white and a Negro are placed side by side, and the declaration is made, "The first is more intelligent than the second." But here is a primary source of error; the confusion of race with individual... (M, pp. 202-3)
Must one conclude, because he recognizes in the European a degree more of intelligence than in the African, that the second is destined by nature to serve the first? But where does such a theory lead?
Among the whites, intelligence is also unequal. Should servitude be the punishment of anyone less bright than average? And who is to determine the average intelligence? No, the moral worth of man is not entirely of the mind; it is above all a quality of the soul. After proving that the Negro comprehends less than the white, one must prove that he feels less keenly than the white; that he is less capable of generosity, sacrifice, and courage.
Such a theory does not stand up to scrutiny. Applied to the whites alone, it seems ridiculous; applied only to Negroes, it is more odious because it inflicts upon an entire race of men the most frightful misery. (M, p. 204)

Refutes argument that slave labour is needed to cultivate the soil to produce sugar, rice, tobacco because whites are not able to cope with farming in hot climates. Believes argument is contradicted by activity of white farmers in places like Maryland. GB believes that as industrialisation continues slave labour will become less and less competitive. Article of faith among liberal political economists that slave labour cannot compete with free wage labour in productivity, cheapness and innovation.

I do not conclude from all this that the objection raised against white men working in the South is entirely devoid of foundation; but still, may one not suppose that several of the Southern states which have up to now have considered slavery a necessity will recognise their error, as has Maryland today? Every day, communication between the states becomes easier and more frequent. May not the moral revolution which has taken place in Baltimore, spread in the South? The Southern states, formerly purely agricultural, are beginning to be industrialised; factories in the South will have to compete with those in the North, that is, to produce as cheaply; then they will find it impossible to use slave labourers, since it has been shown that these cannot successfully compete with free labourers. Wherever the free worker appears, slavery falls. (M, p. 206)

In spite of GB's moral, political and economic objections to slavery concludes that putting aboliton into practice frought with danger because of the degree of racial prejudice which exists in America. Ex-slaves cannot remove stigma of their previous status as slaves, viz. their skin colour.

The fact is that in America the very race of the slaves is a more serious problem than their slavery. American society, with its Negroes, is in a totally different situation from the ancient slave-owning societies. The color of American slaves changes all the consequences of liberation. The freed white man (in the ancient world) retained almost no mark of the slave. The freed balck has almost no characteristic of the free man; in vain will the blacks receive their liberty; they will still be regarded as slaves. Custom is more powerful than law; the Negro slave has been considered an inferior or degraded being; the degradation of the slave will cling to the freed man. His black color will perpetuate the memory of his servitude, and seems an eternal obstacle to the minlging of the two races. (M, p. 214).

Perhaps political and economic freedom will not improve situation ex-slaves. Written before results of British experiment in freeing their Caribbean slaves in 1833 were known. GB able to point to situation of where blacks were nominally free, i.e. in many Norhtern states but where there still existed "insurmountable barriers" to coexistence with whites. E.G. in North blacks still excluded from education and politics. GB complains about situation of virtual apartheid in North which did not disappear in the South until the mid 1960s. Could almost be talking about situation in South Africa today:

Though living upon the same soil and in the same cities, the two populations have a distinct social existence. Each has its own schools, churches and cemetaries. In all public places where the two necessarily must be present at the same time, they do not mingle; but separate places are designated for them. They are thus classified in courtrooms, hospitals, and prisons. The liberty enjoyed by the Negroes is not, for them, the source of any of the benefits obtained in society. The same prejudice which heaps scorn on them forbids the the practice of most professions. One cannot form an exact idea of the difficulties the negro must overcome in order to make his fortune in the United States; he is met with obstacles everywhere, and nowhere with support. Thus, domestic service is almost forced upon the greatest number of free Negroes. (M, p. 215)

GB came to dismal conclusion that race hatred was "the great canker in American society." (p. 216) Feared that in the South a "war of extermination" was possible and that if it came to war between the North and the South, that the blacks themselves would be the victims. Predicts "gathering storm" of civil war which was to break out 26 years later in 1861.

What is happening today in the North gives a preview of the South's future. If it is true that the generous attempts made to transport the freed Negroes from America to Africa (i.e. to Liberia) can never lead toany but partial results, it is unfortunately all too certain that one day the Southern states of the Union will contain in their midst two inimical races, distinct in clor, separated by invincible prejudices, the one returning hatred for the other's scorn. There, it must be realised, is the great canker in American society.
How can this great political problem be solved? Is a war of extermination inevitable? How soon? Who will be the victims? The Southern whites being in possession of the civilsing forces, of the habit of power, and certain, moreover, of finding support in the Northern states, where the black race is diminishing, must one conclude that the Negroes will succomb in the struggle, if a struggle there will be? No one can answer these questions. The storm is visibly gathering, one can hear its distant rumblings; but none can say whom the ligtning will strike. (M, p. 216)

GB did not go into much detail about how black slaves might be freed except to distinguish between three possibilities:

  • immediate abolition with the problem of indemnifying the slave owners for lost property
  • gradual aboliotion (as undertaken by the British) where children would be freed but not parents. Problem of the impatience and resentment of those not freed.
  • the transportation of freed slaves back to Africa. Example of Liberia, formed as an Arican home for freed slaves. By 1834 some 3 million returned.

Unfortunate problem of GB's concern about the difficulty of abolishing slavery was that it gave ammunition to conservative supporters of slave system who believed emancipation impossibly difficult to achieve.

3. Alexis de Tocqueville on Abolition of Slavery

Two recent journal articles:

  • Robert A. Strong, "Alexis de Tocqueville and the Abolitionn of Slavery," Slavery and Abolition, September 1987, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 204-15.
  • Matthew Mancini, "Political Economy and Cultural Theory in Tocqueville's Abolitionism," Slavery and Abolition, September 1989, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 151-71.

In the late 1830s and early 1840s AT was active in government committees looking into problem of how French slaves might be emancipated with least disruption to colony's economy. Issue discussed on 3 occasions:

  • the "Report on Aboliton" July 23, 1839
  • the De Broglie Report of May 1843
  • AT's articles on the De Broglie Report published in Le Siècle between October and December 1843.

a. The "Report on Abolition" of 1839

AT elected by the Chamber to a commission set up to investigate Destutt de Tracy's abolition bill in which it was proposed to free all children of slaves at their birth and to set prices for the purchase in order to free of all existing slaves in French colonies. AT chosen by Commission to write the report and contains much of his own views on the matter. See collection edited by Seymour Drescher, Tocqueville and Beaumont on Social Reform. Report was presented July 23, 1839 but not discussed because of the discussion on the budget. Unfortunatley Report was shelved by Chamber, delaying tactic by government to avoid making decision, not discussed but referred to another Royal Commission headed by the Duc de Broglie. No action taken until revolution of 1848 freed slaves and took matters out of the hands of the government. Slavery abolished in February 184? AT's last speech on slavery took place in May 30, 1845 on a bill dealing with the legislation of the French colonies. The provisions of bill dealing with slaves changed their status from mere chattels to civil persons recognised in the eyes of the law. The bill limited corporal punishment that masters could inflict on slaves, required the masters to provide obligatory religious education, and expanded the opportunity of slaves to purchase their own freedom. Although bill did not abolish slavery AT voted for it because he believed it did improve their condition somewhat.

AT's Report drew upon the recent experience of the British who attempted to emancipate their slaves gradually between 1833-? Proved impossible in practice and the gradual appoach had to be abandoned and the slaves freed immediately. Important aspect of Report was to try to achieve slave emancipation without violence and without destroying colonies' economies. Problem of the transition from slave labour to system of free wage labour.Two solutions were studied by the Commission: that freedom be granted to slaves individually and gradually, or that they be freed immediately. Decided that gradual emancipation was dangerous. Concluded that in strict justice slave owners were not entitled to seek compensation for loss of slave property, but it was politically desirable to do so to win over the slave owners to aboliton. Commission advocated that the state should act as guardian of the emancipated slaves for a period, in order to maintain discipline, regulate employment and the compensation of slave owners.

b. AT's articles on the De Broglie Report published in Le Siècle 1843

The second Royal Commission on abolition which resulted from AT's "Report" and established in May of 1840 brought down its findings in May 184? Head of Commission and author of the second Report was the Duc de Broglie (1785-1870), who was member of the Chamber of Peers. B had been active in the 1820s in liberal abolitionist circles, had been President of the Council of Ministers from 1835-6, and President of the Abolition Society. AT had also been a member of the B commission and wrote a series of journal articles in order to popularise the finding of the commission. AT dispaired that he would never be allowed to present his views to the Chamber so he published articles on abolition in the press, Le Siècle in six parts between October and November 1843.



XIX. WAR AND PEACE I: War and Military Expenditure in the 19thC

A. Summary

Increase in size of military forces - conscription and democracy

Growth in expenditure - industrilisation

Development of Military-Industrial Complec in 1880s

B. Introduction: The Nature of Warfare in the 19thC

Dilemma faced by Europeans in 19thC very similar to problems faced by us today:

  • the procedure for settling disputes between nations and the nature of diplomacy had remained constant
  • the consequences of diplomatic failure dramatically increased because of two factors since the French Revolution
  • democratisation of the armed services, conscription or the "Levée en masse" of 1793 increased size of armies
  • industrial revolution and new weapons inreased destructive power of war.

1. The Increase in the Size of Military Forces

Economy able to suppiort massive increase in numbers of economically unproductive soldiers. Beginning of professionalisation of army in pre-industrial era. Dramatic change from Ancient Greece and Rome with their non-professional citizen armies. Following figures based on Quincy Wright, A Study of War (1942). In the 16thC armies averaged about 20-30,000. In the 17thC return to size of armies experienced under Roman Empire. Roughly 0.3% of the entire population under arms. National armies of about 50-60,000. In 18thC Frederick the Great had an army of 80,000. War fighting gradually became the occupation of a small professional warrior caste. During the Napoleonic wars average size of armies was 84,000 although at times in some engagements the French army rose to 200,000 with a total mobilisation of 1,000,000 or 3% of total population. (Compare this to Iraq today with 1,000,000 men in army out of population of 18m, 5.5%.)

In Restoration France practice of conscription continued but weakend by policy of allowing exemptions or substitutions. Period from 1815 to outbreak of Crimean Wazr in 1854 was one of peace. Encouraged idea that was was an occupation for a professional minority. Middle class devoted itself to business and disdainged fighting. Prime Minister Adolphe Thiers (PM 1836, 1840) stated in 1848 that "The society where everyone is a soldier is a barbaric society." Thiers, typical of MC, that the MC should be exempt from conscription because it was in the interest of the state to have merchants, doctors, lawyers go about their important businesses " and for that it is necessary that the education of men destined for those careers not be interrupted or made impossible by gneral conscription." (Compare with similar practice in US during Vietnam War. Middle class college students could postpone being drafted. Thus it was poorer whites and disproportionate number of blacks who served in Vietnam). Different case with the working class. Thiers believed conscription useful part of their education. Had civilising effect on WC:

We observe generally in our countryside that every man from the fields who leaves the army, who has spent 7 years in the service comes back stronger, more moral and better instructed. (Quoted in Hamerow, p. 366)

Modern historian Eugene Weber in Peasants into Frenchmen beleives conscription into army played educative role in teaching French, national language, to men from provinces where incomprehensible dialects spoken. Important part of state-building along with state education.

This positive view of conscription for the WC is attitude of conservative liberals. A very different attitude towards the army expressed by more radical liberals, topic of next lecture. Example of classical political economist Nassau Senior, An Outline of the Science of Political Economy (1836):

War is mischievous to every class in the community; but to none is it such a curse as to the labourers. (Quoted in Silberner, p. 28)

Even more radical opposition to war and its destructive effect on all classes is view of James Mill, shared by most liberal economists in 19thC, in Commerce Defended (1808). JM called war "the pestilential wind which blasts the prosperity of nations" and "the devouring fiend which eats up the precious treasure of national economy" (Silberner, 41). More on JM in next lecture.

In the mid-19thC England relied entirely on a volunteer professional army. Prussia continued policy of general conscription, but faced problems in being able to train all the conscript soldiers. Nearly 1/3 of pontential conscript soldiers received no military training because the army could not absorb so many new recruits. In 1858 the number of men in the standing armies in Europe was 2,675,000 men.

Franco-Prussian War of 1870 was the turning point in the expansion of armies. The war was over Prussian support for a Hohenzollern (i.e. German) candidate for the Spanish throne. French declared war but were severely defeated at Sedan in Septmeber 1870. (See Émile Zola's novel The Debacle (1892)). France lost Alsace, and most of Lorraine, forced to pay indemnity of 5 billion Francs. Napoleon III was captured. Brought to an end the Second Empire. Lesson learnt from this conflict was that the small professional army of France was no match for the large conscripted Prussian army. Other nations followed suit. Austria in 1868 after defeated by Prussia in 1866, France 1872, Russia 1874, Italy 187? By the end of the 19thC only exceptions were the USA and England.

Distinction between "line regiment" (men serving 2-5 years) and "reserve regiment" (subject to service under general mobilisation). Germany in 1914 had 850,000 in line regiments out of population of 65 million (1.3% of population). Under general mobilisation army could be increased to 5 million men (7.7%). French numbers 800,000 out of 39 million population could be increased to 3.5 million. Russia 1.5 million out of 160 million, could be increased to 6 million.

In 1900 relative strengths of the army to civilian population. Percentage of able bodied men 21-60 years (plus men in reserves)

Italy 3% 24%

Austria-Hungary 3.4 21

Russia 4.4 21

Germany 4.8 36

France 5.8 41

France appears to be more "militarised" than Germany according to this way of measuring. Reflects greater determination of France than Germany to use its resources for war to make up for lower level of industrialisation and smaller population.. In 1911 Germany conscripted 53.1% of all men of conscript age whereas France conscipted 83%.

Some historians have drawn connection between universal conscription and democracy and industrialisation. Conscription tied to idea of citizenship. Voting rights implied duty to defend country. Economically, large conscript armies not possible until greater wealth of industrialisation produced surplus which could be taxed to fund it.

Political dangers of a conscript army. Conservatives concerned that a mass conscript army would not be as dedicated to defending tradition royal dynasty as professional warrior caste drawn from noble class. Fear that democratic conscript army would defend democratic ideals. Thus many conservative politicians and military leaders opposed conscription. Considerd it a radical doctrine similar to that of universal suffrage. Interestingly, some radical socialsts defended conscription for the same reasons. Conservative example of Alfred von Waldersee, in 1878 Chief of Staff of Prussian Army Corps. He feared class conclift would spread from civil society to army. Believed "only a professional army can prevent the total collapse of all existing institutions" (Hamerow, p. 371). The same reasons which led conservative to fear political implications of universal conscription led radical socialists to advocate it. Draft was perceived as a means of altering existing political and social institutions. The military training provided by the army to proletariat would be useful in a future revolution or a gneral strike (example of Germany in 1919 or Russia in 1917). In 1891, Friedrich Engels described the draft as more important than the franchise in the struggle for socialism. A man had the right to vote at 25 in Germany, but he was conscripted at 20. FE believed that Prussian army would become socialist training ground by 1900. Like most other Marxist predictions not true:

Around 1900 the army, once the most Prussian element of the country, will be socialist in its majority. That is coming as inescapably as a decree of fate. (Hamerow, p. 371)

French socialist leader Jean Jaurès also hoped that the democratisation of the army would be a weapon of peace rather than of war (willingness of men to fight in 1914 shows foolishness of this hope). In 1911 in L'Organisation socialiste de France: l'armée nouvelle Jaurès predicted taht the aristocratic ruling classes would be reluctant to engage in a conflict which was contrary to the interests of workers and peasants who made up the army:

To make the mobilisation of the army mean the mobilisation of the nation itself will render it more difficult for governments to entretain ideas of adventure. (Hamerow, pp. 371-2)

2. The Industrialisation of Warfare

New methods of production and inventions of the industrial revolutioln which so dramatically transformed the economies of Europe in the 19thC could also be applied to increasing the efficiency and destructiveness of warfare. New methods of construction were reflected in the increasing costs. many liberal and radical critics of the new industrial militarism warned of the dreadful "burden of armaments" and the economic consequences of fincning and building them. Many predicted the financial collapse which would be brought on by military competition (the arms race) and hoped that nations would draw back from the brink for economic reasons. Argument used in The Burden of Armaments: A Plea for Retrenchment (The Cobden Club, 1905).

Best example of this was naval construction. In the 1870s land forces were still the major aspect of military spending. Table showing considerable increase in naval expenditure between 1870 and 1900:

Country 1870 1886-8 1900

Britain $50m 130m

France 38m 40m 63m

Russia 11m 19m 43m

Germany 9m 38m

Italy 6m 30m 123m

By the 1880s the importance of the navy had increased partly because of the increasing importance of defending colonial empires and also need to control the Meditarranean.

Interesting to compare growth in expenditure and manpower between navy and army in years 1880-19? Note huge increases in naval expenditure, especially with germany which was trying to catch up to Britain.

Naval Manpower N spending Army Manpower A spending

GB 45-131,000 $51-202m 322-445,000 $75-138m

(191%) (296%) (38%) (84%)

Germ. 7-58,000 11-103m 419-636,000 91-204m

(729%) (836%) (52%) (124%)

Naval Manpower N spending Army Manpower A spending

Fr. 40% 72% 42% 65%

Although naval expenditures increased fastest because of the changes in technology, the largest percentage of the military budget was still spent on the army. Only exception was Britain. In 1914 the percent of total militrary spending on the army was

Germany 80%

France 69

Italy 65

AustriaHungary 79

Russia 73

GB 38 (spent 62% on navy)

Overall the expenditure on the military budget showed a dramatic increase in the last quarter of the 19thC. See table from Hamerow, p. 377 taken from P. Jackson, "Armament Expenditure of the World," The Economist, 19 October, 1929, "Armaments Supplement".

Increasing burden on average citizen in Europe in decades immediatley preceeding 191? Per capita burden converted in to contemporary dollars.

1890 1895 1900 1905 1910 1913

Germ. $2.65 3.07 3.59 3.96 4.70 7.91

This represents a 198% increase in 23 years. Another set of figures from 1880-1910, before acceleration of spending just before war.:

Britain 110

France 59

Germany 84

Italy 94

Russia 20

These figures are less dramatic than the increase in overall productivity of the economy. Burden of armaments tolerated because it increaed more gradually when compared to general increase in wealth in late 19thC. Comparison of percentage of national income spent on defence.

1870 1880 1890 1900 1910 1914

GB 2% 2.3 2.3 3.1 3.6 3.4

for a total increase of 70% from 2-3.4%

1875 1880-90 1895-1900 1905-10 1912 1913

Germ. 2.6 2.5 2.8 2.9 3.1 4.5

for a total increase 1875-1912 of 73%.

Tables from Hamerow, pp. 380-81.

Indicates "the increase in the cost of defence was part of a general increase in the cost of government." (Hamerow, p. 379).

3. The Development of a Military-Industrial Complex and the Arms Race before 1914

The term MIC coined by President Eisenhower in his farewell address of 196? Defined it as "the conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry." (Cuff, BusinessHist. Rev., 1978). Importance lies in fact that the vested interests of the military and private firms which supply the military combine to urge increased military expenditure and an expansion of the size and sophistication of the military. The historian William McNeill, The Pursuit of Power dates the formation of the MIC in France, Germany, GB from about 188? In that year there was a "naval scare" promulgated by GB over fear that British naval superioity was being lost as French modernised their navy in mid 1880s. Coincide with a economic depression and the expansion of the franchise to include more of the working class. Now a new vested interest group of workers in naval industry which would oppose any cut in government spending on navy. Combined with the elite group of naval officers who were technologically knowledgeable. Collaboration of naval workers, younger naval officers, and private naval industries to argue for increase in naval expenditure at cost of general taxpayers. Naval scare over French navy soon replaced by greater threat of German naval build up after 189? Tirpitz Plan (Admiral von Tirpitz was Secretary of State of Im,perial Naval Office) to build massive battleships to defeat British navy in the North Sea in any future conflict. Difficult to calculate numbers of works dependent on naval expansion. In 1897 perhaps 250,000 or 2.5% of entire male workforce of GB (McNeill, p[. 285). By 1913, naval spending had doubled since 1897 and perhaps 16-17% of workforce.

C. Conclusion

Few people realised how the industrialisation of warfare would change the way in which battles would be fought. To mst politicians ans military commanders, the stalemate of the trenches and the destructiveness of the new weapons in WW1 came as a complete surprise. There were two accurate predictions which went unheeded. One was by the Polish sociologist, economist and banker, Jean de Bloch, who wrote a 6 volume work La Guerre (Paris, 1898-1900), predicting the types of wounds and casualties to be expected from the advances in gun powder, rifles technology, artillery and so on. Predictions were so horrifying that in caused the Tsar of Russia to call for an International peace Conference at the Hague in 1899 to discuss the problem of war. Unfortunately ineffectual.

Second successful prediction was made by Friedrich Engels, in 1887 (Hamerow, p. 383).

No war is any longer possible for Prussia-Germany except a world war, and indeed a world war of an extent and violence which have hitherto never been imagined. Eight to ten million soldiers will kill one another, and in the process they will strip all of Europe bare, as no swarm of locusts has ever done. The devastations of the Thirty Years' War will be compressed into three or four years and spread over the entire Continent. There will be famine, pestilence, and a general brutalisation of the armies as well as the masses of the population. There will be a hopeless confusion of our artificial machinery in commerce, industry, and credit, ending in general bankruptcy. There will be a collapse of the old states and of their traditional state wisdom to the point where the crowns will be rolling on the pavement by the dozen, and no one will be found to pick them up.

In next lecture I will discuss the opposition of liberals to war and war expenditure in the 19thC: Benjamin Constant's idea that Europe had left the "era of war" and had entered a new "era of commerce"; the view of the liberal political economists who stressed the economic costs of war - Jean-Baptiste Say, James Mill, Frédéric Bastiat, and Gustave de Molinari and his scheme for a League of Neutrals.



XX. WAR AND PEACE II: THe Opposition of French and English Liberals to War

A. Summary

B. Introduction

Two groups of liberals concerning problem of war.

  • the liberal pacifists such as Benjamin Constant, Jean-Baptiste Say, James Mill, Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Richard Cobden, John Morley
  • the nationalistic, conservative liberals such as Adolphe Thiers, François Guizot, and the English liberal party in 1914.

Liberal pacifists topic of this lecture. Some of their basic beliefs include following:

  • theoretical distinction between two different ways of acquring wealth: theft or productive labour, war vs the market
  • idea that 19thC society had entered a new "era" of productive activity and peace. Leaving era of war behind. Linking of free trade and peace.
  • idea that cost and destructiveness of war had become obvious to everyone. Concluded that it was no longer in public interest to go to war. Costs outweigh benefits.
  • faith in power of public opinion to demilitarise society
  • belief that international arbitration between nations will make war no longer necessary to solve disputes.

C. Liberal Attitudes to War and Peace

19thC liberals inhereited many attitudes from the 18thC Enlightenment. In 18thC development of "peace utopias" and schemes for international peace: Rousseau, the Abbé Saint Pierre, Jeremy Bentham, Immanuel Kant, and Condorcet. Many of the liberals who had lived through the wars against the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars (in many respects a "world war") had a strong anti-war element to their liberalism. 5 examples : Benjamin Constant, Jean-Baptiste Say, James Mill, Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari.

1. Benjamin Constant and "The Spirit of Conquest" (1814)

BC wrote De l'esprit de conquête et de l'usurpation dans leurs rapports avec la civilisation européene (1814) to attack the militarisation of France by Napoleon. BC admits that military values may have been useful at more primitive stage of society, but in a modern commercial and civilised society they were dangerous to stability, prosperity and tolerance. BC distinguished between two fundamentally different methods of acquiring goods and services (wealth) - through commerce or by war.

We have reached the era of commerce, an era which must necessarily follows on from that of war, just as the era of war had to precede it.
War and commerce are only two different methods of achieving the same end - that of possessing what one desires. Commerce is nothing other than recognition given to the power of the possessor by the person who wishes to possess it. It is an attempt to obtain by mutual consent what one can no longer hope to conquer by force. A person who would always be the stronger would never have any idea of commerce. It is the experience of someone who, in experiencing personally that war (i.e. the use of his force against another's force) is exposed to diverse opposition and checks, is led to commerce, i.e. to a means which is genmtler and more likely to engage the self-interest of others to give their consent to the transaction.
War is thus prior to commerce. The former is the result of wild desires. The latter is the result of civilised calculation. It is clear that the more that the commercial tendancy dominates the more the martial tendancy will weaken. (Guachet, p. 118).

Compare this with the very similar sentiments in Herbert Spencer, Principles of Sociology written some 60-70 years later. HS's distinction between "militant and industrial" type of societies.

2. Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832)

Leading French political economist in first third of 19thC. Lived during Napoleonic wars and wrote his Traité d'économie politique (1803) which became the classic text of PE in France for a generation. In 1820s wrote Cours complet d'économie politique pratique (1828-9). A theme in all his economic writing is a horror of the destructiveness of war and a corresponding exaltation at the possibilities for prodcutive free exchange and free industry. In 1814 JBS visited England on behlf of the French government to observe impact of war on English society and economy. Was shocked by the ravages which the war against Napoleon had caused. Noted the suspension of payments by the Bank of England (refused to exchange gold for paper money as BE had issued too many paper notes tghan they had gold, i.e. inflation), the depreciation of the paper money, the increase in taxation which he described as "a nightmare," the massive rise in the national debt, and the imposition of the corn law tariffs. Wrote a report on his visit to England for government, De l'Angleterre et des Anglais (1815).

JBS fought all his life against the large standing armies which came about a result of conscription during the French Revolutionary period. For reasons of cost and morality (immoral to compell some one to serve in army) JBS preferred militias. (Compare german liberal support for militias as Bismarck centralised control of the German armies in Prussian hands). Quote from Cours complet, part 7, ch XIX, "Système agressif et système défensif." Argues that states must use nationalism to divert public attention away from heavy econmic burden of supporting taxes for the military.

The large permanent armies which the powers of Europe maintain do not live by pillaging, at least ordinarily, but it should be noted that they are an enormous burden on the industrious people who work indefatigably to support them. But one is obliged to use the stimulation of national vanity to encourage these nations to work this hard. The ideas of military power and glory are used to maintain them. One is encouraged to believe that a large deployment of forces is he only sure means of their security. The people are dulled in times of peace by the sounds of martial music, the sound of drums and the explosion of cannons. But all this costs an enormous amount and is a luxury which is as ruinous as any other. Even so, happy is the nation which does not proceed from the vanity of having such an army to the vanity of making use of it. All war, not to mention the horror of killing one's fellow man, when it is not enjoying the fruits of peace, is only a deception. (p. 286. My translation but part quoted in Silberner, p. 72).

Say's solution to the problem of militarism was to:

  • encourage industry and free trade which he considered to be the opposite of war
  • to replace all standing armies with local militias (conservative governments opposed this because they did not want to arm ordinary citizens whoi might use it against them)
  • to develop public opinion (i.e. the opinion of the educated middle class) as industrialisation and education continued to force governments to reduce military spending and to counter the influence of those classes which benefited from war (nobility, bankers and industrialists who sell to army)

3. James Mill (1773-1836)

During the Napoleonic War JM debated Thomas Spence and William Cobbett over the productiveness of commerce Commerce Defended (1808). This came about because of Napoleon's economic warfare against England - the blocade of English trade to break English industrial might by deny it access to Europe. Spence argued that agriculture alone was truly productive and that England had little to fear from the interruption to its foreign trade in manufactured goods. JM attacked Spence to support the idea that manufacturing and international commerce were productive activities. Also tok opportunity to attack destructiveness and economic distress caused by war in general. JM came to conclusion, like Bastiat in argument about "disturbing factors" upsetting harmony of the free market, that the primary reason for poverty and indebtedness of the mass of mankind was the economic distress caused by war. Eats up individuals' savings and diverts capital from productive to unproductive activities. Nations caught in cycle of war-peace-war thus preventing accumulation and prosperity to be established.

To what baneful quarter, then, are we to look for the cause of the stagnation and misery which appear so gneral in human affairs? War! is the answer. There is no other cause. This is the pestilential wind which blasts the prosperity of nations. This is the devouring fiend which eats up the precious treasure of national economy, the foundation of national improvement, and of national happiness. Though the consumption even of a wasteful government cannot keep pace with the accumulation of individuals, the consumption of war can easily outstrip it. The savings of individuals, and more than the savings of individuals, are swallowed up by it. Not only is the progression of the country stopped, and all the miseries of the stationary condition (i.e. a recession or depression) are experienced, but inroads are almost always made upon that part of the annual produce which had been previously devoted to production. The condition of the country therefore goes backwards; and in general it is only after the country is so exhausted that the expence of war can hardly by any means be found, that it is ever put an end to. When the blessing of peace is restored, the country slowly recovers itself. But hardly has it gained its former prospertiy when it is generally re-struck by the calamity of war, and compelled to measure back its steps. In this alternation between misery and the mere beginnings of prosperity, are nations for the most part, condemned to remain; the energies of human nature are exerted to no purpose; its beneficient laws are counteracted; and the happiness of society which seems to be secured by such powerful provisions, like the water of Tantalus, is only allowed to approach the lip, that it may be immediately dashed away from it. (Silberner, pp. 41-2)

JM's solution to the problem of poverty is for governments to avoid war and thus to allow individual capital accumulation to take place. Government policy should be "a steady and enlightened aversion to war' (Silberner, p. 42). This will enable society to gradually increae its wealth in a time of peace.

Nothing however can compensate the destruction of war - the creative efforts of individuals can never equal its gigantic consumption (of wealth), and the seeds of prosperity are eaten up. (Silberner, p. 42)

JM believes a major cause of war is the existence of colonies. Argues this in article "Colonies" in Encyclopaedia Britannica (1824). Colonies are costly to acquire and protect. A nations then needs a large and expensive navy. Commercial benefits of colonies flow to only a few, the "ruling few" , who have monopolised the colonial trade. Furthermore, the administrative posts in the colonies go to members of the ruling class. Colonial wars sought by aristocracy in the army and navy.

Colonies are a great source of wars and of additional expence in war; that expence, by which the ruling few always profit at the cost of the subject many."

View which was shared by Richard Cobden, linking of colonialism and war.

JM's solution is

  • a policy of free trade
  • no exclusive trading zones in the colonies
  • international court of arbitration

JM advocates such a court in article "Law of Nations." Create a tribunal which would adjudicate disputes in a peaceful manner and where injured nations could seek redress for wrongs done. Believed nations would have an interest in framing an interantional code to establish laws of war, treatment of neutrals and so on. This is idea behind Hague Peace Conferences later in century and League of Nations after WW1. JM believed court would act as "a great school of political morality" (p. 32). Since the decisions of the court could not be enforced by force of arms it would have to rely on moral sanctions and slight penalties such as the withholding of privileges like diplomatic mmeasures, "the ceremonial of other nations" and the withdrawl of legal protection for nations. JM wanted principles of international code to be taught in every school.

The book of the law of nations, and selections from the book of the trials before the international tribunal, should form a subject of study in every school, and a knowldge of them a necessary part of every man's education. In this manner a moral sentiment would grow up, which would, in time, act as a poweful resraining force upon the injustice of nations, and give a wonderful eficacy to the international jurisdiction. No nation would like to be the object of the contempt and hatred of all other nations; to be spoken of them on all occasions with disgust and indignation. On theother hand, there is no nation, which does not value highly the favourable sentiment sof other nations; which is not elevated and delighted with the knowledge that its justice, generosity, and magnaminity, are the theme of general applause. When means are taken to m ake it certain that what affords a nation this high satisfaction will follow a just and beneficial course of conduct; that would it regards with so much aversion, will infallibly happen it to it, if it fails in the propriety of its own behaviour, we may be sure that a strong security is gained for a good intercourse among nations. (p. 32).

Compare JM's discussion of "reputation" in "Freedom of Speech".

To us these sentiments seems rather naive and hopeful given the realities of of Realpolitik. However they have motivated the drive for international organisations such as League of Nations and United Nations in 20thC.

4. Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850)

FB borrowed heavily from JBS's economic theory. One important borrowing was the distinction between trade and plunder (or "la spoliation" as FB termed it) which FB discusses in article "Property and Plunder," Journal des économistes, 1848 reprinted in his Selected Essays on Political Economy, chap ? FB's major work was Economic Harmonies but he died before it was completed. The chapter on war was left unfinished. Rough draft can be found in EH, chap 19.

FB distinguishes between "industrial societies" in which every individual lives by voluntary trade and production, and "military society" (same distinction as Herbert Spencer) where people live by plundering the property of others. Beginnings here of liberal class analysis of history taken up later by Gustave de Moinari and Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer. A good feeling for FB's great revulsion for things military can be found in the following description of (ancient) military societies in which:

a very small number of men managed to live without working, supported by the labour of the oppressed masses. This small leisured group made their slaves construct sumptuous palaces, vast castles, or sombre fortresses. They loved to surround themselves with all the sensuous pleasures of life and with all the monuments of art. They delighted in discoursing on philosophy and cosmogony; and, above all, they carefully cultivated the two sciences to which they owed their supremacy and their enjoyment: the science of force and the science of fraud. (EH, p. 478)

Reminds me of a poem by the German Marxist poet and playwright Bertholt Brecht.

For FB there was no common ground between workers and plunders (influence of Dunoyer on this view of FB's?):

As great as the difference between the plowshare that feeds and the sword that kills, so great must be the difference between a nation of workers and a nation of plunderers. It is not possible for their to be any common ground between these two. They canot have the same ideas, the same standards, the same tastes, the same character, the same customs, the same laws, the same morality, or the same religion. (EH, p. 481)

This will give you an indication of the depth of FB's (and of many French liberals of the time) for all things military. Very much in the tradition of Constant, James Mill and Say. FB's solutions to the problem of war also similar to JM's. At the risk of being called a traitor, FB advocated complete military disarmament:

it is necessary to disarm on land and on the sea, and to do so as soon as possible. (From essay "Paix et liberté ou le budget républicain" in Complete Works)

Only such a thorough-going disarmament would permit massive tax cuts and restrictions on government spending. (Compare President Ronald Reagan. Supposedly a believer in samll government yet he made this impossible to achieve with the massive increase in military expenditure during his reign).

FB's second solution to the problem of war was to disarm "economically", i.e. to end the economic warfare of tariffs against other nations. Idea was that economic rivalry led to tariff wars which led to fighting wars. FB beleived that tariffs and subsideis to domestic industries in order to make a nation self-sufficient was a declaration of war. Like Cobden and other free traders FB hoped that greater trade would lead to greater economic interdependence and thus make more less likely and more costly to contemplate.

To break off natural relations (i.e. free trade) does not mean putting oneself in a state of independence, but in a state of isolation.
And note this: nations isolate themselves in anticipation of war, but the very act of isolation is a beginning of war. It renders it more easy, less onerous, and hence less unpopular. Let nations be permanent markets for each other's products. Let their relations be such that they cannot be broken without inflicting upon them the twofold suffering of privation and glut, and they will no longer need those powerful navies which ruin them, those large armies which crush them; world peace will be no longer endangered by the caprice of a Thiers or a Palmerston, and war will disappear, having no nourishment, resources, motives, pretexts, and popular sympathy. (from Ec. Soph., pp. 97-98, quoted in Silberner, p. 98)...
Trade barriers constitute isolation; isolation gives rise to hatred, hatred to war, and war to invasion....
We are profoundly convinced that free trade means harmony of interest and peace among nations, and we certainly place this direct and social effect a thousand times above the direct or purely economic effect.
For assured peace among nations means disarmament, the discrediting of brute force, the revision, reduction and just distribution of public taxes; it means for the peoples, the dawning of a new era. (Quoted in Silberner, p. 99)

FB's third solution was the creation of an organised pacifist movement to arouse public interest in peace and to put pressure on states to avoid war.

a. International Conference of the Friends of Peace, 1848-

FB and other liberals participated in formation of peace society to promote pacifism. The 1st international conference of the "Friends of Peace" in 1848 held in Brussells. Second in 1849 held in Paris and was well attended by French liberals including Alexis de Tocqueville, FB, Michel Chavalier, Charles Dunoyer, Horace Say, Gustave de Molinari, Joseph Garnier. Large number of liberal political economists. Horace Say declared that "political economy is the science of peace par excellence." And the Journal des économists became an important organ of pacifist propaganda (see Silberner).

FB chosen to present the aims and attitudes of the Society in an address. Must be seen in context of the recent 1848 revolution:

  • standing armies are a danger economically because they require massive taxation
  • heavy taxation is a major cause of poverty among the masses
  • poverty is a major social problem and a leading cause in revolution
  • disarmament, leading to reduced taxation must be introduced to alleviate the situation of the poor
  • final resolution called for international arbitration to offer alternative to war in the settling of disputres between nations, and an end to "loans and taxes destined to support wars of ambition and conquest" (note Cobden's opposition to loans to Turkey and Russia by businessmen for purposes of war in early and mid 1850s.

FB typifies the well-meaning but rather naive approach of liberal pacifism.The reason for their naive hope for world peace was that they were all convinced that, as Constant had stated 30 years before, the world had entered a new era - an era of free trade, commerce, industry and prosperity, in which war had no place. Furhtermore, FB believed that, whereas wazrs in previous centuries had been waged in the material interest of the ruling elite of nobles, monarchs and the warrior caste, in the mid-19thC wasrs had become democratised with mass conscript armies. FB was convinced that the masses who made up these armies would eventually realise that war was not in their own interests. Secondly, FB beleived in the power of public opinion as expressed in the press and in elections. He believed that this force could override the vested interests of the ruling few who benefited from war (the professional military, vain political leaders, and the financiers who loaned money for war). FB believed role of the Peace Congress was to hasten this process of putting public pressure on the ruling elite to make war less likely. In particular, the political economists' task was to point out the harmful economic consequences of war, an argument which FB and his colleagues thought was overwhelming.

To-day, however, two circumstances have completely changed the question.
The first is that wars no longer have (material) interest for their cause or even for their pretext, siince they are always opposed to the true interests of the masses.
The second is that they no longer depend on the caprice of a leader, but on public opinion.
From the combination of these two circumstance it follows that wars are bound to become less and less frequent and, owing to the force of events, finally to diappear independentaly of any intervention by the congress, for anyhting harmful to the public and yet dependent on the public must necessarily cease.
What then is the role of the congress? It is to hasten this outcome, inevitable in any case, by showing to those who do not see it where and how wars and armaments are harmful to the general interest.
(Silberner quoting FB's correspondance, pp. 102-3)

FB believed that, in order to arouse the public to an awareness of their true self-interest, that they should be approached directly by the members of the congres. FB proposed to tell the public:

Consult not only your interests in thebother world but also those of this world. Examine the effects of war. See whether they are not tragic for you. Observe whether wars and heacy armaments do not lead to interruptions of work, to industrial crises, to loss of strength, to crushing debts, to grinding taxes, to financial impossibilities, to discontent and revolutions, to say nothing of deplorable moral habits and culpable violations of the religious law?
Is it not permitted to hope that this language will be understood? Take courage, then, men of faith and devotion, have courage and confidence! Those who today can not join your ranks follow you with their eys and with their hearts. (Silberner, pp. 102-3)

Handout of a speech given by Cobden to Peace Society meeting in 1850.

5. Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912)

GM's interest in peace was life-long. First liberal economist to discuss possibility of an international organisation (of neutral or non-aligned nations) with power to enforce peace, not jsut to use moral suasion. Wrote following works dealing with war and peace:

  • article "La Guerre," in Dictionnaire de l'économie politique (1852)
  • book on L'Abbé de Saint-Pierre (1857) GM taken with SP's and later Kant's idea of "Perpetual Peace"
  • "Projet d'association pour l'établissement d'un ligue des neutres' (1887) published in the London Times, 28 July 1887.
  • final work Grandeur et décadence de la guerre (1898).

Essential aspect of GM's view of war was sociological and historical. Believed that societies evolved through stage. War in more primitive stages of society's evolution was necessary and even useful but in present century and in present "industrial" stage of society, war had outlived its usefulness and was now harmful to civilisation and progress. In his first published work, Études économiques (1846) GM denounced war in following terms:

War, in ceasing to be the safeguard of civilisation, has ceased to a have a raison d'être. (Silberner, p. 114)

In his last published work, Ultima Verba (1911) some 65 years later, GM still concerned with problem of war and connects it with another battle which concerned him throughout his long life.

It concerns everyhting that has filled my life: free trade and peace.

GM was a pioneer sociologisty as well as a liberal political economist. In his voluminous writings he developed a theory of social and economic evolution which was based upon the idea that different stages of social development existed and that these different stages were determined according to what Marx was to call the mode of production, i.e. that the way in which wealth was produced determined to a large extent the type of government, the form of religion, the society's "morals" or political culture, and the role that war was to play. GM's basic stages through which societies progressed were not original. Many social thinkers in the 18thC had a "four stage theory" of development (e.g. Adam Smith, Turgot)

  • the hunter-gatherer stage: pillage
  • settled agriculture: slavery and regular taxes
  • mercantilism: trade restrictions and imperial trade wars
  • industrialismm and commerce

The special contribution of GN was to incorporate Constant and Say's distinction between military and commercial eras into a very detailed sociological and historical analysis of the development of European society from the Romans to the French Revolution and beyond into the 19thC.

The role of war in GM's scheme is similar to BC's: that war is inevitable and even necessary in the most primitive stages and when more advanced agricultural societies are threatened by barbarian invasions (e.g. the end of the Roman Empire). However, as soon as capitalist agriculture, commerce and, most importantly, industry emerged, the usefulness of war suddenly disappeared. The political problem of the 19thC, GM believed, was how the industrious classes (i.e. all those who produced goods and services and exchanged them voluntarily on the free market) could protect themselves from the ravages of war. For GM the campaign against war had two aspects - an argument about the immorality of war and an economic argument about its cost and destructiveness. Believes immorality of war will become increasingly obvious as it becomes more destructive, thus showing how moral and economic aspects of argument are linked.

This notion of the immorality of war to all appearance will propagate itlself only in consequnce of fresh experiences more destructive and costly than the previous ones... But as soon as it will have penetrated the universal conscience, the institutions necessary to prevent war and, if needful, to punish its authors and promoters, will rise and impose themelves automatically; the professions and industries which make up its personnel and which supply its material will be discredited. Then war will disappear from the civilised world as cannibalism did. ((GM, La moral économique, p. 351, quoted in Silberner, p. 120)

Like FB, GM believes that restrictions on trade, whther internal or external, are acts of war. GM even goes so far as to call protectionism, étatisme and socialism "substitutes of militarism" (GM, Grandeur, p. 175, quoted in Silberner, p. 120). Also like FB GM has great confidence in the public to see that their interests are not served by war and to put pressure on their governments to avoid it in the future.

If then the masses who bear the crushing weight of the old machinery of a warlike State, wish to push through its reform, they must, first, be conscious of the evils and the burdens which this machinery inflicts upon them and know (enough) to attribute them to their real cause, and, second, must acquire a power of (public) opinion capable of overcoming all resistance. For this reason such a reform will perhaps yet be a long time coming, but it is nevertheless inevitable, since peace is the condition necessary for the existence of the present and future societies, just as war was a prerequisite for the life of those of the past. (GM, Grandeur, pp. 206-7, quoted Silberner, p. 121)

GM optimistically concluded:

Perhaps the day is not far off when perpetual peace, considerd a century agao, as the dream of an upright man, will become a reality, and when war in its turn will appear only as the dream of the wicked, the Utopia of the spirit of Evil. (GM, Abbé St Pierre, p. 67, quoted Silberner, p.121)

In addition to the "inevitable" forces of history pushing societies towards peace GM believed there should be an international body made up of neutral states with the power to enforce its decisions. (much like the UN today?) This "League of Neutrals" would be made up of nations with the most to lose from war, such as England (GM was writing to an English audience), and who followed a free trade policy. GM envisaged it being made up of all the independent and smaller nations of Europe, such as Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark. They would hand over their armed forces to the League which would form a combined force of say 450,000 men (also including the British Navy). The aim of the League would be to join forces with any victim of agression in order to deter that aggressor. GM hoped public pressure would lead to its formation and article in Times was designed to begin this process.GM hoped that further in the future all the nations of the world would form a league, a condition of memebership being that each nation would agree to submit its disputes with other nations to arbitration rather than resorting to armed force.

D. Conclusion

Nothing came of GM's appeal, although in 20thC experiments in international organisation, League of Nations after WW1 and UN after WW1. After early popularity of Peace Associations in 1840s and early 1850s, movement slumped until the writings of the Polish economist and sociologist Jean de Bloch in 1898 inspired Tsar Nicholas II to organise the International Peace Conference at thge Hague in 1899.

The great weakness of liberal pacifism was

  • its naive and utopian view that the world had entered a new era in which war was an anachronism
  • Their theory of evolution led them to believe the move away from war would be inevitable
  • Their exaggerated faith in the ability of the public to see that they were the greatest losers from armed conlfict
  • A similar exaggerated faith in the power of public opinion to sway the political, military and economic elites who gained from war to put an end to war.
  • complete misunderstanding of the power of nationalism to motivate people to go to war



XXI. SOCIALISM I: The Socialist Challenge to Liberalism

A. Summary

Liberals reacted to socialism in 2 ways:

  • to change liberalism to accommodate socialist criticism of industrialisation. Development of "New Liebralism" by Green, Hobhouse, Hobson inspired by Mill. Old Liberals now in a minority.
  • to renew the attack on socialism, especially Fabian socialism. Emergence of a liberal faction within the Conservative Party. "The Liberty and Property Defence League" with Auberon Herbert, Herbert Spencer, Thomas Mackay.

Friday lecture examine in more detail liberal criticism of socialism.

  • Herbert Spencer, The Man vs the State (1884). Attack on both socialism and the interventionism of conservatism and liberalism.
  • LPDL, Thomas Mackay's A Plea for Liberty (1891). Response to Shaw's Fabian Essays.
  • Eugen Richter's attack on socialist utopia Pictures of the Socialist Future (1891).

B. Introduction

Liberals caught between conservatives on one hand and socialists on other in late 19thC. Conservatives wanted to protect their traditional political and economic privileges such as the domination of the political system and the church, protection of land holdings, tariffs. Much of this course has been about the liberal opposition to conservatism. Socialists wanted to reform or even abolish private property and the market system. Now examine liberal response to this new challenge. Bastiat and others had attacked socialism of Proudhon in 1840s. In 1880s it was a new enemy, the Fabians.

There is a complication in that the nature of liberalism and conservatism began to change in the late 19thC Britain, especially in Britain. A sizable faction within the Liberal Party became "New Liberals", i.e. adopted the view that positive state action was the best method of improving welfare. The faction around Gladstone remained loyal to "Old Liberalism" with its negative concept of liberty - that freedom for the individual was the absence of state interference. With the retirement of Gladstone, New Liberalism predominated in LP. The remaining Old Liberals (the anti-state liberals in the tradition of Cobden and Spencer) sought refuge in the Conservative Party. The CP now had 2 opposing factions within it:

  • the paternalistic faction whioch was socially elitist and opposed to democracy and liberalism
  • an Anti-statist faction who were suspicious of too much interference by the state.

It is the latter strain of anti-statist conservatism which has come to the surfce again in the British Consevative Party under Thatcher. Thus Old Liberals (either in the LP or the CP or even thoe in non-party organisations) were in the invidious position of being threatened both from within their own party as well as from without by the Labour Party or socialist groups like the Fabians.

C. John Stuart Mill and the Socialism within Liberalism

Leonard T. Hobhouse (1864-1929), himself a New Liberal, described JSM as follows:

in his single person he spans the interval between the old and the new liberalism (1911)

An interesting fact about JSM's liberalism is its ambivalence between seeing the state as a threat to individual freedom and seeing the state as the means of liberating the individual. In other words, between anti-statist individualism and collectivism. JSM's ambivalence towards positive liberty/collectivism/socialism is important (there is an extensive debate about whether JSM himself is a socialist or not) because of the influence he exerted on liberals who entered public life and thus positions of influence in the direction British politics was to take after 1870. The anti-statist conservative Albert Venn Dicey in Lectures on the Relation between Law and Public Opinion in England during the 19thC (1905) described JSM's influence as follows:

(the) changes or fluctuations in Mill's ... convictions, bearing as they do in many points upon legislative opinion, are at once the sign, and were in England, to a great extent, the cause, of the transition from... individualism... to... collectivism... His teaching specially affected the men who were just entering public life towards 1870. It prepared them at any rate to accept, if not welcome, the collectisvism which from that time onwards has gained increasing strength.

Mill's "socialism" laid the foundation of "New Liberalism" in the following ways.

  • ambiguity of language
  • functions of government
  • elitism
  • outright sympathy for socialism
  • ambiguity of language. Far from being an extreme advocate of anti-statist individualism JSM qualifies much of his writing with paternailistic arguments for state interference of individual liberty. See in particular chapter V "Applications" On Liberty (1859) for examples. 2 examples which JSM believed "which together form the entire doctrine of this essay." At one place asserts strong view of negative liberty, that the "individual is not accountable to society for his actions in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself" (p. 163 OL). Contradicts himself a little later on on p. 166 with an argument of paternalistic interefence with individual liberty. Example of crossing a dangerous bridge. "it is a proper office of public authority to guard against accidents" and thus legitimate for government to step in to overcome individual ignorance. Second quote from OL shows to what extent JSM's defence of individual libertry of a negative kind is determined by vagaries of public opinion. "for such actions as are prejudicial to the interests of others, the individual is accountable and may be subjected to socialor to legal punishment if society is of the opinion that the one of the other is requisite for its protection." (p. 163, OL) This interpretation opens up liberalism to a much more interventionist role for government if public opinion desires it. This idea of JSM's taken up by Green and Hobhouse.
  • Functions of Government. The difficulty arises from JSM's distinction between "necessary" and "optional" functions of government in his Principles of Political Economy (1848) (discussed in lecure on Laissez-faire). Necessary functions - defense and police, money and taxation. Optional - a question of expediency and public opinion. Optional functions could be expanded indefinitely as public opinion became more favourable to interventionism and paternalism.
  • elitism. In OL fear that mediocrity of masses and public opinion would stifle the gifted and eccentric elite. In his writing on Representative Government JSM aimed to ensure that "instructed minds" or "the very elite of the country" could be present in the elcted assembly to lead the masses. He objected to government by an aristocracy of birth but not to an aristocracy of merit or capacity. This is important given the extreme elitism of the Fabian socialists.
  • Outright sympathy for Socialism. Believed in voluntary, experimental socialism not revolutionary socialism. Rejected absolute right of inheritance and unlimited right to property in land. Especially in posthumously published "Chapters on Socialism" (1879) in which he admits claims of socialists are exaggerated and that there were some political dangers from an interfering state. Nevertheless he was impressed with the socialst ideals of cooperation (such as workers' cooperatives and profit sharing schemes) and common ownership. Support for socialism linked to his idea of separating concept of production from distribution. Production was determined by natural laws of competition and the market and could not be interfered with by the state without causing chaos. However, distribution was a "matter of human institution solely" and depends on "the laws and customs" of society" and not natural laws. Thus the state could intereven where it liked without causing harm. The result of these concessions to state interference in free market is an uneasy "marriage" of liberalism and socialism in JSM's thought. Overall, my conclusion is that JSM was not a socialist, that he believed that capitalism at its best was better than socialism at its best. Even if JSM was not a socialist, he laid the foundation for New Liberalism, which was to some extent.

D. New Liberalism

Within the liberal movement a small group of friends and collaborators attempted to redefine liberalism as "positive" rather than "negative" liberty. Two of its leading representatives are Leonard T. Hobhouse and John A Hobson.

Leonard T. Hobhouse, Democracy and Reaction (1904) and Liberalism (1911).

John A. Hobson, The Evolutiona of Modern Capitalism (1894) and The Crisis of Liberalism: New Issuse of Democracy (1909).

The term "New Liberalism" began to appear in the mid and late 1980s. The aim was to distinguish the new movement from the old anti-statist form of liberalism which had prevailed in the first 2/3 of the 19thC. (Similar to "New Left" in this regard). Other adjectives used included "mosern," "progressive," and "new." The direction the NLs were heading clearly stated by John Simon in "Liberals and Labour," in Six Oxford Men: Essays in Liberalism (1897):

(next to)...the idea of individuality as secrure "from" legislative interference there has grown up, in apparnet contradiction, the idea of individuality as secured "by" legislative intereference. (Greenleaf, p. 144)

The six "Oxford Men" were Hilaire Belloc, Francis W. Hirst, John A. Simon, J.L. Hammond, P.J. MacDonell, and J.S. Phillimore.

The NLs abandoned the idea of the minimal state. In 1903 the NL journal Independent Review it was argued that freedom was best served by "the direct intervention of the state." The liberalism espoused in this passage is a world apart from the extreme anti-interventionism of Humboldt, Cobden and Spencer. Listen for the echoes of JSM's thought.

Let the community as a whole control what concerns the community; let the sources of prodcution be worked by the State in the general interest. That is the answer given by the modern movement... The future lies with those who can elicit and apply to actual life waht is fruitful in the new ideas, and can combine it with those elements in our past inheritance that are still living and prodcutive of good; who can, as occasion calls, determine the limits within which the community may interfere with advantage; who can discern the directions in which it may be to the interest of all for the corporate action of the state or municipality to replace private initiative; and who can, at the same time, both safeguard and extend each man's full freedom of action where it does not clash with the common welfare, and can ensure that individual enterprise is neither thwarted nor impaired, but merely guided into thjose channels in which it can produce its best results. ("A Plea for a Program," Independent Review, 1903-4, quoted in Greenleaf, p. 161)

An important group of NLs was the "Rainbow Circle" which met regularly 1894-1920 and consisted of H. Samuel, J. Rae, C.P. Trevelyan, J.M. Robertson, F.W. Hirst, and J.A. Hobson. Explicitly abandoned old liberal tradition of philosophic radicalism (Bentham and James Mill) and Manchester School of economics (Cobden and Bright).

1. Hobhouse (1864-1929)

One of the leading theorists of NL. Taught philosophy at Oxford in late 1880s and early 1890s. Fellow at Corpus Christi College 189? Supported trade unionism and worker education. 1897-1902 leader writer for the Manchester Guardian. Influenced by both Herbert Spencer on evolution and T.H. Green. Argued that evolution was leading to "collectivist control" of the economy (e.g. Factorty Acts, sanitary regulations, Poor Laws) rather than to laissez-faire or even free market anarchism as Spencer once believed.

LTH distinguishes between "social" and "unsocial" freedom. Social freedom he defined as the "freedom to choose among those lines of activity which do not involve injury to others." Depends upon restraint from mutual injury of society's members. Similar to JSM's conceptiopn of liberty - "self-regarding acts" should be free. "Other-regarding" acts should be subject to control.

Unsocial freedom was "the right of a man to use his powers without regard to the wishes or interests of anyone but himself." LTH believed negative freedom was "antithetic to all public control." Rejected old liberal notion of liberty as freedom from state control as selfish and harmful to society. Believed society (i.e. the state) must provide the possibility for each person to make the best of themselves, even if theis requires some curtailment of individual liberty such as governemnt control of land, the transfer to society of socially created value (rent), ownership of public utilities and key industries, a living wage for all, a graduated income tax, limited inheritance, state welfare and education.

From this we can see how close NL is to modern forms of liberalism and how far it had developed from the classical/old liberalism of Humboldt and Bastiat. Very little in common with OL, which define individual freedom in opposition to state activity. LTH on other hand defines freedom as being achieve by means of state activity. The extension of public ownership and control in all areas is essential for the protection of "social" rather than "individual" freedom.

E. The Threat to Liberalism from Without: Fabian Socialism

Liberalism not only challenged by socialism from within but alos from without. In England by the socialist Fabian Society which was founded in 188? Members included George Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb (Potter), Annie Besant, H.G. Wells and Graham Wallas. Later members included R.H. Tawney, G.D.H. Cole, H. Laski, and Bertrand Russell.

The beliefs of the FS included:

  • the desire to remodel/reconstruct society in accordance with the moral principles of socialism.
  • to replace the struggle for private gain with, in Shaw's words, "design, contrivance, and co-ordination" to promote the "collective welfare."
  • that a "democratic aristocracy" would emerge in order to plan and reform society. This elite would man the bureaucracy which would be the instrument for the solution of all social problems. The administrative machine would replace the free market.
  • their paternalism would be "scientific" and not utopian like many previous socialists. Policies would be rationally conceived, the implications patiently explored, data methodically collected, and practical ways of implementation discussed. Ideas spread by publication of dozens of "Fabian Tracts". FS was a kind of "institute for social engineering" and topics included factory conditions, santiary reform, public health, the organisation of agriculture, land nationalisation, death duties, taxation. A sample of the titles include "The Truth about the Leasehold Enfranchisement," "The Case for an 8 Hours Bill," "The Municipalisation of the Gas Supply," "Allottments and How to Get Them," "Municipal Slaughter Houses," "The London Education Act of 1903: How to Make the Best of It."
  • the rejection of Marxism. Rejected M's idea of the gradual immiseration of the WC and the idea of class struggle. Accepted evolutionism of Spencer and Darwin and believed progress was being achieved. Therefore no need for revolution to achieve socilaism. Aimed instead to influence leaders of Labour Party and bureaucrats in public sector.
  • advocated policy of collective ownership. FS aimed to dispossess those who received "unearned income, i.e. rent from land, interest from capital, and to control it by the state in the interest of the less fortunate. Advocated policy of nationalisation of land, heavily progressive taxation, and nationalisation of important assetss for "collective ownership." Fs called their system one of "collective ownership" (S. Webb) or "state socialism" (Shaw). S. Webb in The Difficulty of Individualism () explained aims of FS could be achieved through piecemeal government intervention:
An increase in the death duties, the steady rise of local rates, the special taxation of urban ground values, the graduation and differentiation of the income-tax, the simple appropriation of the unearned increment, and the gradual acquirement of land and other monopolies by public authorities, will in due course suffice to "collectivise" the bulk of the tribute of rent and interest in a way which the democracy will regard as sufficiently equitable even if it does not satisfy the conscience of the proprietary class itslef. The growth of collective ownership it is, and not any vain sharing out of property, which is to achieve the practical equality of opportunity at which democracy aims. (Quoted in Greenleaf, p. 374).

Some Fs such as Graham Wallas, looked forward to a future when the family, the symbol of private individual life outside of state control, would be replaced by

the public kitchen, the public store, the public teacher and the like... then at at last a life will be possible for all, as not not even the richest and most powerful can live today. (Greenleaf, p. 375)

This is ideal expressed by Edward Bellamy in his socialist utopian novel Looking Backward (1888). Handout of extract from novel on public kitchen.Contrast will Richter's socialist dystopian novel Pictures of the Socialist Future.

  • the ideal of "municipal socialism." The collective responsability for running publicly owned assets would fall to democratically elected autonomous local authoroties Described by S and B Webb in The Workers' Political Programme (Fabian Tract no. 11, 1890).
We want the Town and County Councils, elected by adult suffrage, and backed with the capital derived from the taxation of unearned incomes, and with compulsory powers of acquiring the necessary land upon payment of a reasonable consideration to the present holders, to be encouraged to engage in all branches of industry in the fullest competition with private industrail enterprise... Local Self Government can be but a mockery to the poorer workers until it means the democratic control and administration not merely of park or a sewer, but of the shops and factories in which the woker has to his his living. (Greenleaf, p. 376)

The municipality or local government was the key instrument in the achievement of socialism since the FS had rejected revolution. State was not viewed as an instument of class oppression (as some radical OLs and Marxists did), but as the means by which the good society could be achieved.

  • the strategy of gradualness or "permeation". Sidney Webb described strategy as the "inevitability of gradualness" or "meliorism." GB Shaw described at as follows:
The Fabian policy was to support and take advantage of every legislative step towards collectivism no matter wha quarter it came from, nor how little its promoters dreamt that they were advocating an instalment of socialism. (Shaw, "Sixty Years of Fabianism," Fabian Essays (1947 ed.)

Thus FS aimed to influence all parties, Labour and Liberal and Conservative, in particular the intellectuals and leadership, as well as government bureaucrats. Greatest influence was on Labour Party in years fiollowing WW1.

1. The Fabian Concept of the Administrative Machine

Fabians were fascinated by idea of a rationally and deliberately organised society which would replace the "waste and anarchy" of the free market. Planning and control would be done by "the professional expert" who would replace both the rule of the capitalist and rule by the majority. Very elitist and anti-market and anti-democratic position. Would lead to rule by a class of "experts" and technocrats. Bureaucratism. As Beatrice Webb expressed Fabian elitism and arrogance:

We have little faith in the "average sensual man," we do not bleieve that he can do more than describe his grievances, we do not think that he can prescribe the remedies... We wish to introduce into politics the professional expert - to extend the spherre of government by adding to its enormous advantages of wholesale and compulsory management, the advantages of the most skilled entrepreneur. (Greenleaf, p. 398)

Ideas of technocratic bureaucratic state socialism put forward in S and B Webb's A Constitution for the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain (1920). Fabians examined other societies for examples of rule by an educated technocratic elite who planned and "rationally" controlled society. E.g. H.G. Wells, A Modern Utopia was impressed with the modernisation undertaken by Japan and Korea and admired the superior class of controllers which he called "The Samurai." Also Fabians admired Bismarck's state socialism, Turkey (visited it on world trip in 1912, and of course Stalist Russia. Webbs wrote notorious apology for Stalinism in Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation(?) (1935 with ?, 1937 more certain so without ?). Webbs believed Stalinist Russia was a working example of a future socialist commonwealth in Britain.

F. Conclusion

It is obvios why the OLs still alive in late 19thC, such as Herbert Spencer, Thomas Mackay in England, Molinari in France, Eugen Richter in Germany, found the idea of the NLs and the Fabians objectionable. It was an affront to everything which they held dear:

  • idea that individual liberty was freedom from the state
  • hostility to a large, interventionist state
  • the creation of a new technocratic and bureaucratic elite
  • the increase in taxes needed to fund programs of nationalisations of industry and land
  • interference with property rights and the free market.

I will discuss the objections of OLs such as Herbert Spencer to NL and Fabianism in the next lecture.



XXII. SOCIALSM II: The Old Liberal Critique of Socialism

A. Summary

B. Introduction

Discuss the group of Old Liberals who were associated with the Conservative Party in the late 19thC, the socalled "libertarian" conservatives who rejected the New Liberalism sweeping the Liberal Party and the rise of fabian socialism. Their main orgainsation was the aptly named "Liberty and Property Defence League" founded by Francis Charteris, or Lord Wemyss. The source of the LPDL's ideas was the work of Herbert Spencer. Today examine HS and the anti-socialism expressed in The Man versus the State (1884). The most important piece of anti-socialist propaganda put out by the LPDL was A Plea for Liberty (1891), with an introduction by their intellectaul leader HS, in response to the collection of Fabian Essays edited by Shaw. In order to understand the proposals put forward in A Plea for Liberty we need to undersatnd HS's objections to socialism, or as he called it the "coming slavery", and to the NL which he called the "new Toryism."

C. The Opposition to New Liberalism and Socialism in Late 19thC Britain

In the last lecture I discussed the changes taking place in liberalism and the Liberal Party in the lat 19thC. Most important was the move of liberals away from the 'Old" anti-statist form of liberalism common in its classical period of the first half of the 19thC, toowards a more interventionist "new" or socialist form of liberalism. This movement was a result of the work of J.S. Mill, L.T. Hobhouse, and John Hobson. A number of frustrated OLs found a home within the Conservative Party to form what Greenleaf has called "libertarian conservatism" in his book The British Political Tradition. Volume 2 The Ideological Inheritance (1983). The historian Patrick Cosgrove (biography of AV Dicey) stated that "One sometimes feels... that the laissez-faire liberal party of the 19thC never really died but instead took over sections of the Conservative Party." (The Spectator, January 1972).

The ideological leaders of "libertarian conservatism" as laissez-faire liberalism is now known, include:

  • Herbert Spencer whose belief in laissez-faire and evolution found considerable support within the conservative party.
  • Francis Charteris (1818-1914) also known as Lord Elcho from 1853 and the 10th Earl of Wemyss after 188? Became an extreme individualist liberal in 1880 under influence of H Spencer.
  • Thomas Mackay (1849-1912) edited A Plea for Liberty (1891) and its sequel A Policy of Free Exchange (1894)
  • other radical individualist liberals include Wordsworth Donisthorpe and Auberon Herbert (1838-1906)
  • other anti-socialist conservatives include Lord Hugh Cecil, founder of the British Consitutional Association in 1905, and R.D. Blumenfeld, founded Anti-Socialist Union in 1907-8

1. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)

Born intop a lower middle class home in Derby in 1820. Influenced by his uncle Reverend Thomas Spencer, a radical non-conformist ministger who supported the disestablishment of the Anglican Church, reform of the franchise and free trade.

Key aspects of HS's thought can be summarised as follows:

  • a natural law defense of extreme individualsim and laissez-faire
  • in early years even went so far as to advocate a form of liberal anarchism in "The Right to Ignore the State," Social Statics (1851)
  • evolutionary progress of society from "militant" to "industrial" society. Idea of the survival of the fittest meant that the state should not interfere to save people from their own mistakes.
  • attacked the "new superstitution" of the divine right of parliament to "overlegislate."

Dominant aspect of his thought in the late 19thC was his opposition to "overlegislation" whether by consevatives, the "New Liberals" or socialists. Discuss HS's opposition to New Liberalism and socialism which provided the LPDL with many if its ideas.

a. Spencer's Opposition to New Liberalism in Man versus the State (1884)

In Febraury, April, May, and June of 1884 HS wrote a series of essays for the Contemporary Review on "The New Toryism," "The Coming Slavery," "The Sins of Legislators," and "The Great Political Superstition" (later published separately as MvS) in order to reinvigorate OL and to end "the present retrograde movement towards state intervention" (Greenleaf, p. 79). In the preface to MvS HS refers to an article he wrote in 1860 warning that increases in what he called "freedom of form" (which included political freedoms such as parliamentary and electoral reform, and which Benjamin Constant, in typical old liberal fashion, called "ancient" liberty) would be followed by a decrease of what he called "freedom of fact" (or what BC called "modern" liberty). HS believed that in the 24 years since then

Nothing has occured to alter the belief I then expressed. The drift of legislation since that time has been of the kind anticipated. Dictatorial measures, rapidly multiplied, have tended continually to narow the liberties of individuals, and have sone this is a double way. Regulations have been made in yearly-growing numbers, restraining the citizen in directions where his actions were previously unchecked, and compelling actions which previously he might perform or not as he liked; and at the same time heavier public burdens, chiefly local, have further restricted his freedom, by lessening that portion of his earnings whihc he can spend as he pleases, and augmenting the portion taken from him to be spent as public agents please. (MvS Penguin ed., p. 59).

HS focusses on 3 ways in which individual liberty (of a negative kind) has been lessened: by restrictions, compulsions and taxation (which HS views as a form of slavery). Unfortunately, a lot of the blame must lie with the liberals who have abandoned the negative view of liberty and adotped a positive view, seeing state intervention in the economy as the means by which individuals can become free. In a letter writtne iin 1900 HS no longer claimed to be liberal in the changed circumstances of the late 19thC

I do not desire to be classed among those who are in these days called liberals. In the days when the name came into use, the liberals were those who aimed to xtend the freedom of the individual versus the power of the State whereas now (prompted though they are by desire for popular welfare), liberals as a body are continually extending the power of the state and restricting the freedom of the individual. Everywhere and always I have protested against this policy, and cannot now let it be inferred that I have receded from my opinion. (quoted in Greenleaf, p. 81)

The most detailed criticism of NL by this giant of the old liberal school is found in the chapter "The New Toryism" in MvS. In this chapter HS compared the NLs to "New Toryism" or a new form of the traditional conservative party against who the old liberals had won many struggles such as the repeal of the Corn Laws. "Most of those who now pass as liberals, are Tories of a new type." (Penguin, p. 63). HS reminds his readers that the distinction between liberalism and toryism/conservatism was due to a radically different conception of how society should be organised, the Tories and NLs favouring what HS called "the system of compulsory cooperation" (a return to the "militant type of social organisation in HS's evolutionary scheme) whilst the OLs favoured "a system of voluntary cooperation" (or the industrial type of social organisation). HS complained that the "so-called liberalism of the present" had forgotten this fundamental distinction.

They have forgotten that, in one direction or another, they diminished the range of governmental authority, and increased the area within which each citizen may act unchecked. They have lost sight of the truth that in past times Liberalism habitually stood for individual freedom versus state coercion. (p. 67)

HS asks himslef how this could have happened? Why have the new liberals "inverted" the method of achieving the public good and reverted to the coercive methods of their old enemies the Tories? In orther words, why have they abandoned the negative view of freedom and replacved it with a positive one? Continuing the previous quote HS asks himself these questiopns as appears to imply that it has been the possession of political power which has corrupted liberalism:

And now comes the inquiry - How is it that Liberals have lost sight of this? How is it that Liberalism, getting more and more into power, has grown more and more coercive in its legislation? How is it that, either directly through its own majorities or indirectly through aid given in such cases to the majorities of its opponents, Liberalism has to an increasing extent adopted the policy of dictating the actions of citizens, and by consequence, diminishing the range thoughout which their actions remain free? How are we to explain this spreading confusion of thought which has led it, in pursuit of what appearss to be public good, to invert the method by which in earlier days it achieved public good? (p. 67).

The answer HS gives is that the NLs have mistaken ends and means. HS believes the NLs are confused because the reforms achieved in the early years of liberal reform (such as the abolition of slavery and the repael of the Corn Laws) resulted in the "abolitons of grievances suffered by the people." The means used to achieve this was the restriction of state activity and intereference in individual affairs (i.e. in protecting blacks from kidnapping and forced labour and in allowing individuals to voluntarily buy and seel grain at will). But NLs now believe, HS argues, that the end of liberal reform is the gaining of popular good (the utilitarian agenda) irrespective of the means used to achieve it. They now believe that positive government intervention in individual activity is a legitimate means to achieve the end of popular welfare. This is a serious mistake with dire consequences in HS's view.

The gaining of a popular good, being the external conspicuous trait common to Liberal measures in earlier days (then in each case gained by a relaxation of restraints), it has happened that popular good has come to be sought by Liberals, not as an end to be indirectly gained by relaxations of restraints, but as the end to be directly gained. And seeking to gain it direclty, they have used methods intrinsically opposed to those originally used. (p. 70).

HS provides examples of liberal inspired legislation which may be thought to increase "popular good" but which violates liberal ideas of natural rights and individual liberty: the restrictions on the labour of women and children in Act of 1870, the extensions of the Factory Acts in the 1860s, the establishment of a state telegraphy in 1864, movements to enfrorce sobriety, and tax-funded public education.

In addition HS believed that democracy had done little to increase individual liberty understood in a negative sense. Clear similarity to BC's distinctions between ancient liberty (right to choose one's ruler) and modern liberty (right to be left alone by the state). HS, in classical OL style, believes that liberty is measured

not by the nature of the governmental machinery he lives under, whether representative or other, but by the paucity of the restraints it places on him. (p. 79)

To HS whether or not individuals share in choosing what kind of government is irrelevant since the end result is not different - a new form of slavery.

If men use their liberty in such a way as to surrender their liberty, are they thereafeter any the less slaves? If people by a plebiscite elect a man a despot over them (HS probably has in mind Napoleon III who used a plebiscite in 1852 to have himself declared emperor) do they remain free because the despotism was of their own making? (p. 78)

Toryism as defined by HS was "coercion by the State versus the freedom of the individual" or the use od State power "to restrict the liberty of the citizen beyond the degree required for maiontaining the liberties of other citizens" (p. 81). In the past old Toryism was designed to protect the class-interest and entrench class power of the landed aristocracy. The New Toryism of the NLs used the old Tory means of State power to restrict the liberty of the citizen but now justified this activity with what HS acknowledged were altruistic and well-meaning motives to promote the public welfare.

Because of the switch from a negative to a positive view of individual liberty, and the adoption of the coercive means of old Toryism, HS had little hope for the future of liberalism in the 1880s and 1890s but did hold out the possibility that the true defenders of individual liberty would emerge from within the conservative party. HS denied that Liberals and Tories had simply changed places but did observe that groups like the LPDL had emerged from within the ranks of the cosnervatives and not the liberal party.

By sundry newspapers which noticed this article when it was originally published, the meaning of the above paragraphs was supposed to be that Liberals and Tories have changed places. This, however, is by no means the implication. A new species of Tory may arise without disappearance of the original species. When saying, as on page 16, that in our dsays "Conseratives and Liberals vie with one another in multiplying" interferences, I clearly implied the belief that while Liberals have taken to coercive legislation, Conservatives have not abandoned it. Nevertheless, it is true that the laws made by Liberal;s are so greatly increasing the compulsions and restraints exercised over citizens, that among Conservatives who suffer from this aggressiveness there is growing up a tendancy to resist it. Proof is furnished by the fact the the "Liberty and Property Defence League," largely consisting of Conservatives, has taken for its motto "Individualism versus Socialism." So that if the present drift of things continues, it may by and by really happen that the Tories will be defenders of liberties which the Liberals, in pursuit of what they think popular welfare, trample under foot. (p. 81)

b. Spencer's Opposition to Socialism: "The New Slavery"

In essence, HS regarded socialism as a form of slavery. Pointedly said "All socialism involves slavery" in second chapter of MvS "The Coming Slavery" (p.100). HS believed that there were many gradiations in the relationship between a slave and the person who benefited from the salves labour. At one end, was the chattel slave who is treated as an animal, who "has to expend his entire effort for the owner's advantage" (p. 100). The middle stage of slavery is the serf who "has to give his owner exh year a fixed amount of labour or produce, or both; retaining the rest himself." What determines the severity of slavery is " the greater of smaller extent to which effort is compulsorily expended for the benefit of another instead of for self-benefit." In HS's view it does not matter if there is one owner or many (such as the community):

The essential question is - How much is he compelled to labour for other benefit than his own, and how much can he labour for his own benefit? The degree of slaery varies according to the ratio between that which he is forced to yield up and that which he is allowed to retain; and it matters not wether his master is a single person or a society." (p. 101)

Concerning the "coming slavery" of socialism HS claims:

If, without option, he has to labour for the society, and receives from the general stock such portion as the society awards him, he becomes a slve to the society. Socialistic arrangements necessitate an enslavement of this kind; and towards such an enslavement many recent measures, and still more the measures advocated, are carrying us. (p. 101).

Examples of the measures which HS thought were leading British society to socialism and thus slavery were such things as the recent:

  • the Industrial Dwelling Acts, every regulation of which diminishes the control of the owner over his capital
  • the building of council houses at taxpayers expense tending in HS's words "to approach the socialistic ideal in which the community is sole house-proprietor" (p. 102)
  • the state ownership of railways.

One of the greatest fears HS had of socialism was what he called "the despotism of a gradual and centralised officialdom" (p. 107) controlled by "a disciplined army of civil officials" (109) which would emerge out of the regulative functions of the new social system.. HS argued that this despotic officialdom could not create the means to satisfy the material well-being of the citizens but would only distribute what they had raised in taxes from the general population. The relationship between employer and employee would be transformes into "command by local authorities over workers, and acceptance by the workers of that which the authorities assign to them" (107) and "by whom obedience would have to be insisted upon." (108) The net result, according to HS, is that "each would stand toward the governing aganecy in the relation of slave to master." (107)

HS rejected the faith of many socialists, especially the Fabians, that the behaviour of the new administrative class would be benign - "the slavery will not be mild" HS claimed. HS thought that socialists assumed that "officialdom will work as it is intended to work, which it never does" (108). Human nature would remain the same with love of power, selfishness, injustice, untruthfulness afflicting the adminstrative class just as it does the rest of the population. These defects of human nature often bring private orgainsations to disaster, but in an administrative organisation as "vast and complex and possessed of all the resources" as the socialists dream of, the consequences of these defects in human nature would be immense and catastrophic (109). An example HS gives is the way in which the French Government, elected by manhood suffrage, "trampels on the freedom of its citizens."

HS predicts that socialist leaders "would not scruple to carry out their aims at all costs," with little regard for considerations of equity (by which he meant individual liberty and property rights), thus resulting in a system which sound much like any of the commuist regimes of the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe:

a grinding tyranny like that of ancient Peru; under which the mass of the people, controlled by grades of officials, and leading lives that were inspected out-of-doors and in-doors, laboured for the support of the organisation which regulated them, and were left with but a bare subsistance for themselves. And then would be completely revived, under a different form, that regime of status - that system of compulsory cooperation, the decaying tradition of which is represented by the old Toryism, and towards which the new Toryism (i.e. the new liberalism) is carrying us back. (p. 110)

2. The Attack on Socialism by the "Liberty and Property Defence League"

This impassioned and forceful criticism by HS of the increased state activity in late 19thC Britain was taken up by some of the disillusioned liberals and anti-statist conservatives who made up organisations such as the LPDL, the British Constitutional Association, and the Anti-Socialist Union. HS was the leading intellectual of the remnant of Old LIberalism at a time when New Liberalism dominated the Liberal Party and when Fabianism was increasing its influence amongst intellectuals in general, and in the Labour Party in particular.

The LPDL was founded in July 1882 and staffed a group of near-anarchists (of the individualistic variety) inspired by HS's radical liberalism. Its aims were to resist what HS had called "overlegislation," to dfend freedom of contract and individualism, and to resist the governement's control of economic ande social life.

Certain developments in the 1870s and early 1880s provoked the remnants of anti-state Old Liberals and some conservatives to found the LPDL.

  • Conservative landowners became disillusioned with legislation enacted during Gladstone's second period as PM. G's first stint as PM 1868-73 was in style of old anti-state liberalism with constantly cutting the state budget. In second period as PM G introduced legisaltion to control property in land which alienated many landowers who viewed these as violation of their property rights - the Ground Game Act, Compensation for Disturbance (Ireland) Bill, and Irish Land Bill of 1881with proposals for "fair rent, free sale, and fixed tenure. Many conservatives felt betrayed by G and sought to oppose him.
  • The influence of HS's radical liberal writings on a group of intellectuals who chose not to organise withing the liberal or conservative parties, but to form their own lobby groups.

One of the first of these non-party groups was the "Personal Rights Association" founded by Wordswoth Donithorpe and W.C. Crofts in 1871 with a journal called The Individualist. Two years later they formed another group the "Political Evolution Society" in 1873 with a weekly journal Let Be (a rough translation of laissez-faire). In 1880 they changed the name of the PES to the more radical sounding "State Resistance Union." An influential supporter, Lord Elcho, encouraged them to adopt a less radical sounding name and the new orgainsation the LPDL was formed in 1882.

Francis Charteris (1818-1914) also known as Lord Elcho from 1853 and the 10th Earl of Wemyss after 1883, was a landed aristocrat with industrial interests, a founding member and financial backer of the LPDL. Entered Parliament in 1841 as a conservative Tory but converted to liberalism in 1846 in order to defend free trade. Became an extreme individualist liberal in 1880 under influence of H Spencer. Under his influence the SRU changed its name to the LPDL. He was convinced a lobby group with a more narrow focus, concentrating on the defence of property, could get more support, especially among conservatives dissilusioned with Gladstone and fearful of socialism.. He thought the stratgy of the LPDL should be:

to uphold the principle of liberty and guard the rights of labour and property of all kind against undue interference by the state, and to encourage self-help vs state help." (Brown, p. 212)

Another aim of the LPDL was to be a liberal counterweight to the influence of the TUC (trade union congress, the British equivalent of the ACTU) with its important parliamentary committee. Thus the LPDL sought out various associations which ffelt threatened by recent state legislation and to represent them and lobby on their behalf in Parliament to stop legislation they opposed. Some of the bodies which affiliated themselves to the LPDL (much like individual unions did with the TUC) included:

  • the Association of the Principals of Private Schools
  • Chamber of Shipping
  • General Shopowners' Society
  • Shipmasters's Society
  • Society of Licensed Victuallers
  • Licensed Victuallers' Protection Society (fear of temperance legislation and early closing legislation)
  • Mining Association
  • Liverpool House and Landowners' Defence Association
  • Music Hall Property Protection Association
  • National Pawnbroker's Defence Association
  • Railway Association

By 1893 the number of trade associations represented by the LPDL had increased from 11 to 150 and the number of individual memebers numbered 2,000.

The LPDL lobbied against legislation it and its members opposed as anjust interefence in their private affairs. Acted as a legilative watchdog and lobbied against some 386 bills by 1891 and some 400 by 1900. Examples include:

  • the Employers' Liability Act of 1883 which sought to abolish the right of the worker to contract out, or to waive claims for compensation against employers
  • the Miners' Regulation Bill of 1886 which sought to prevent women doing surface work in the mining industry on grounds that it was too unhealthy, immoral and undesirable (offended ideal of domesticity). Curious situation where liberals and conservatives opposed the anti-women legislation of the Trade Unions.
  • opposed Clause 16 of the Factory and Workshop Amendment Bill of 1891 which provided that women could not be employed until after 4 weeks of giving birth. LPDL wanted to abolish or reduce this period to 3 weeks.

LPDL was also active in countering Fabian activity in the London County Council (strategy of municipal socialism) as outlined in S. Webb's London Proagramme. LPDL formned the "London Ratepayes' Defnce League" to keep down rates and to oppose Fabian activity on the London School Board.

Most important aspect of LPDL was publishing ideas of radical individualist and anti-state liberalism (i.e. Old Liberalism) of HS. Important part of their work was

  • the Press Correspondence Dept set up in August 1895 to send letters to the press on a regular basis putting forward their views
  • the publishing of the Weekly Table of Bills 17 times per year when Parliament was in session to keep their members informed of legislation currently being debated
  • publication of a journal Jus (Justice) edited by W. Donisthorpe and the Liberty Review which appeared 1892-1909 edited by Frederick Millar
  • the the major project to publish two works responding to the Fabian Essays in Socialism (1989) edited by Thomas Mackay with an introduction by HS.

Thomas Mackay (1849-1912). Born in 1849 in Edinburgh. Son of a colonel in the East India Company. Edcuated at New College, Oxford. In 1874 called to the bar but did not practice law. Instead became a wine merchant. Made considerable fortune and retired after 10 years in 188? Between 1885 and death in 1912 engaged in literary and poltiical activity. Made his name as an authority on the Poor Law. Reviewd Fabian works by S and B Webb for Quarterly Review. Member of the LPDL and the British Constitution Association. Active in Charity Organisation Society, a private body established in 1869 to aid the poor by reforming and rationalising the administration of private and public relief, in particular to discourage mendicity by separating out the deserving poor and to assist the poor to acquire the virtues of thrift and self-help. Major works: History of the Poor Law (1899), The State and Charity (1898), The Dangers of Democracy (1913); edited A Plea for Liberty (1891) and its sequel A Policy of Free Exchange (1894) and The Autobiography of Samuel Smiles (1905). Wrote introduction to anti-socialist works by Emile Faguet, The Cult of Incompetence (1911) and Eugen Richter, Pictures of the Socialist Future (1907).

Will not discuss A Plea for Liberty here. Leave that for you to do for tutorials.

D. Conclusion

For next weeks tutorial read one of two sets of reading:

  • HS's MvS especially the 2 chapters "The New Toryism" and "The Coming Slavery" to see his objections to the New LIberal idea of a greater sphere of government activity in the economy and his criticism of socialism.
  • The debate between the Fabians and the Spencerites in the LPDL. Read a selection of essays from the collection of Fabian Essays edited by GB Shaw and contrast them to the collection edited by Mackay, A Plea for Liberty. In the latter I recommend HS's introduction and essays on labour legislation, state socialism in Australia, free education and libraries, housing, the post offe ("The Evils of State Trading") and the state monopoly electricity supply.



XXIII. LIBERALISM AND THE NOVEL I: George Eliot's Felix Holt, the Radical

A. Summary

B. Introduction

C. Biography of George Eliot (1819-1880)

Mary Anne Evans (Marian Evans) born Warwickshire 1819, died 1880. Father manager of a large landed estate. Religious education until she assumed domestic duties of family after mother died in 183? Fervent Evangelical Christian - similar to abolitionist Wilberforce. Continued education at home learning Italian and German. Later became important translator of German literature and philosophy.

After 1842 sceptical of Evangelicalism. Mixed in free-thinking circles. Refused to go to church thus shocking her father and older brother. Yet retained tolerance and understanding for those who believed. Early work Scenes of Clerical Life. Trans. major German critiques of Christianity: David Friedrich Strauss Das Leben Jesu 1844 on mythical nature of biblical stories. Published 184? Trans. Spinoza Tractatus Theologico-Politicus on social function of religious myth and Ethics. Trans. Louis Feuerbach, Essence of Christianity pub 1854.

After father's death moved to London mixing in radical circles living in house with John Chapman in ménage à trois. GE became his editorial assistant for Westminster Review in 1851 (founded by Bentham and James Mill in 1824). Met most leading free-thinkers and liberals: JSM, Harriet Martineau, Herbert Spencer. Very skillful editor. Review flourished.

Fell in love with Herbert Spencer 185? One sided affair with confirmed bachelor. HS introduced her to George Henry Lewes who was married but separated and could not get divorce. Lived with L without marrying. Older brother ostracised her.

Assisted L writing a life of Goethe.

Began writing fiction in 1856 with some short stories but turned to long panoramic novels in which she could relate in minute detail the private lives of characters to public life of which they were a part. Novels: Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Romola (1862-3), Felix Holt (1866), Middlemarch (1871-2), Daniel Deronda (1876)

D. Eliot's Politics

Developed idea of natural laws of progress from A.Comte, Spencer and Darwin. In all areas of human activity.

the presence of undeviating law in the material and moral world - of that invariability of sequence which is acknowledged to be the basis of physical science, but which is still perversely ignored in our social organisation, our ethics and our religion. (Ashton, p. 19)

Like T. Fontane melancholy attachment to the past although she realised the necessity of progress. Novels set in recent past to give opportunity to describe best of tradition and belief in progress. She was influenced by August Comte's philosophy of Positivism - successive stages of thought and society. Three epochs of society:

  • theological - religious based Middle Ages
  • metaphysical - negative and destructive - Reformation and the Enlightenment
  • positivist - scientific observation of society and rise of new industrial and technocratic elite.

GE rejected his idea of secular priesthood (like Stendhal) but interested in his religion of humanity. Romola set in Renaissance Florence is based on Comte's ideas - Romola and her father Bardo represent Renaissance critical spirit; medieval religious belief of her brother and Savanorola; becomes secular madonna who cares for people of plague ridden village.

Welcomed 1848 revolutions in Europe, sympathised with poor against pampered rich. Concerning Feb. uprising in Paris:

I have little patience with people who can find time to pity Louis Philippe and his moustachioed sons. Certainly our decayed monarchs should be pensioned off: we should have a hospital for them, or a sort of Zoological Garden, where these worn-out humbugs may be preserved. It is but justice that we should keep them, since we have spoiled them for any honest trade. Let them sit on soft cushions and have their dinner regularly, but for heaven's sake preserve me from sentimentalising over a pampered old man when the earth has its millions of unfed souls and bodies.(Ashton, p. 58)

Complexity and subtlty of GE's view of change "antagonisms of valid claims" (Bamber 419). Cannot right a wrong without at same time also doing another wrong. When past changes both good and bad is lost:

Until this harmony is perfected, we shall never be able to attain a great right without also doing a wrong... Reformers, martyrs, revolutionists, are never fighting against evil only; they are also placing themselves in opposition to a good - to a valid principle which cannot be infringed without harm. Resist the payment of ship-money, you bring on civil war; preach against false doctrines, you disturb feeble minds and send them adrift on a sea of doubt; make a new road, and you annihilate vested interests; cultivate a new region of the earth, and you exterminate a race of men. Wherever the strength of a man's intellect, or moral sense, or affection brings him into opposition with the rules which society has sanctioned, there is renewed the conflict between Antigone and Creon; such a man must not only dare to be right, he must also dare to be wrong - to shake faith, to wound friendship, perhaps, to hem in his own powers. Like Antigone, he may fall victim to the struggle, and yet he can never earn the name of a blameless martyr any more than the society - the Creon he has defied, can be branded as a hypocritical tyrant. (Bamber 419-20)

Antigone, daughter of Oedipus king of Thebes, defies her uncle Creon is sentenced to death and commits suicide. Conflict of principles conscience and family loyalty vs law.

GE makes reader sympathise with doomed aristocratic class and Mrs Transome and question morals of reformers "New Men" like Harold Transome.

E. Politics in Felix Holt, the Radical

Written at time of Gladstone's Second Reform Bill introduced into parliament to extend franchise to working class and eliminate rotten boroughs. Set in recent past during election campaign after First Reform Bill of 183? GE's growing scepticism about democracy.

Summary: The conservative Transome family owns a large but poorly managed estate, which has fallen into the hands of the family lawyer Jermyn. Son Harold Transome reurns from Middle East having made his fortune to stand for Parliament as a Radical. Because of the feudal property law of entail the original owners of the estate granted title of the estate to the Transome family so long as there was a male heir. HT is in fact the bastard son of J and Mrs Transome. Thus the estate must now revert back to a descendant of the original owners, Esther Lyon of poor middle class background. Esther's boyfriend is Felix Holt the radical who has rejected politics but wishes to improve the situation of the workers by means of education. FH during the election campaign exposes bribery and corruption on both sides (Radical and Conservative), makes speeches to the workers on Nomination Day, tries to defuse a riot but is falsely accused and tried for starting it. He is acquitted, Esther turns down the chance to own the Transome estate, Esther and Felix marry and live on Esther's small inheritance helping him teach the workers.

GE's liberalism is of a conservative kind. Hero FH preaches restraint to rioters and the need for the WC to perform their social duties. Leads rioters away from scene yet is incriminated as a ringleader of the riot. In speeches in novel and "Address to Working Men by Felix Holt" written for Blackwood's magazine to defend Second Reform Bill of 1867, FH stresses "dependence of men on each other", "the preservation of order" and the danger of fighting for one's selfish or class interest rather than the common good "without caring how that tugging will act on the fine widespread network of society in which (one) is fast enmeshed" (Ashton, p. 59.)

Distrusts politicians and political programs. Primacy of personal factors. Rev Debarry

If the instructed are not to judge for the uninstructed, why, let us set Dick Stubbs to make our almanacs, and have a President of the Royal Society elected by universal suffrage. (Myers, p. 108)

Fear of intellectual and moral mediocrity of majority.

Desire for power was itself corrupting. E.g Harold Transome tolerating corrupt practices such as buying beer for the miners on the grounds that "a practical man must seek a good end by the only possible means" (Myers 109). FH repudiates both middle class scramble for power and the "New wants and new motives" that go with it (110).

Mortal struggle between "the conserving and reforming spirit". True reform through education and individual moral reform rather than through politics. FH exclusive stress on education of workers, not through ballot but lectures to miners in pubs. FH political reform useless unless underlying morals and opinions changed. There must be something more than universal suffrage (see speech). Politicians are part of the disease and so are voters:

the men who have had true thoughts about water and what it will do when it is turned into steam and under all sorts of circumstances, have made themselves a great power in the world: they are turning the wheels of engines that will help to change most things. But no engines would have done, if there had been false notions about the way water would act. Now, all the schemes about voting, and districts, and annual Parliaments, and the rest, are engines, and the water or steam - the force that is to work them - must come out of human nature - out of men's passions, feelings, desires. Whether the engiines will do good work or bad depends on these feelings; and if we have false expectations about men's characters, we are very much like the idiot who thinks he'll carry milk in a can without a bottom. In my opinion, the notions about what mere voting will do are very much of that sort. (Bamber 424).

FH represents GE mistrust of political leadership in general. Bad for leader himself and materially bad for those he would help. FH rejects categorically working within a corrupt political system. Rejection of politics. Fears corrupting ifluence of politics on his character.

I'm determined never to go about making my face simpering or solemn, and telling professional lies for profit; or to get entangled in affairs where I must wink at dishonesty and pocket the proceeds, and justify that knavery as part of a system that I can't alter. If I once went into that sort of struggle for success, I should want to win - I should defend the wrong that I had once identified myself with. I should become everything that I see now beforehand to be destestable. (B 431).

Importance of education to reform society person by person (individualist or anarchist solution?). FH "I will try to make life less bitter for a few within my reach" (B 426). FH desires to be " a demagogue of a new sort... who will tell the people they are blind and foolish, and neither flatter them nor fatten on them" (B 430). FH's final political statement

I don't mean to... make a new era, or it would be kind of you to get a raven and teach it to croak "failure" in my ears. Where great things can't happen, I care for very small things, such as will never be known beyond a few garrets and workshops. (B 426).

Mrs Transome represents spirit of reaction - right to rule, respect and deference. Her religion is " a view of this world and the next (which preserves) the existing arrangements of English society quite unshaken, keeping down the obtrusiveness of the vulgar and the discontent of the poor" (Myers 125). No place for feudal practices in new England. Mrs Transome is trapped in her marriage and her estate on a personal level and also representing her class trapped and doomed to failure by the impersonal forces of history.

F. Other Passages in the Novel of Political Interest

  • Argument between FH, Mr Nuttwood the grocer and church deacon, and Mr Lyon Esther's father over the refusal of the church choir to chagne tunes after the hymns had been changed. FH defends their right to sing in whatever tune they like. (pp. 241-2). Metaphor that liberty is not licence, there is a lwa in music as in society for harmony to prevail. (pp. 240-2)
  • Discussion between Esther Lyon and FH about his chosen path in life, to remain a manual worker ( "the labour and common burthen of the world" p. 362) and not to seek fame, fortune and a career in politics. Would hate to be like many politicians and reformers "telling professional lies for profit." (p. 363)
  • FH listening to campaing speeches by the candidates. Attracted to the "ultra-liberal" part of the High Street where he hears a speaker denouncing monopoly (p. 395). FH stands to speak and denounces the "power to do mischief" which results from democracy or theb power of "ignorant numbers' (p. 399). Advocates education of working class before being given the right to vote. Representative system an "engine" and the values peole hold is the "steam" (p. 400).(pp. 395-402)
  • FH tries to distract the rioting mob from doing damage to property (pp. 424-29)
  • FH's speech in court defending himself from charge of inciting riot and manslaughter (pp. 564-5). Justifies right of individual to rebel abainst authority: "I hold it blasphemy to say that a man ought not to fight against authority: there is no great religion and no great freedom that has not done it, in the beginning. (p. 565). Calls it "a sacred duty"



XXIV. LIBERALISM AND THE NOVEL II: Stendhal's The Red and the Black (1830)

A. Summary

B. Biography of Henri Marie Beyle (Stendhal) (1783-1842)

S born in Grenoble. Father lawyer, bourgeois family. His home life provided him with material with which to satirise life in the French provinces and the false piety, hypocracy and provincialism of the bourgeoisie. Greatly mourned the loss of his mother when he was seven and loathed his father (like JS in RB - no sign of his mother and hates his father). S was 6 years old when the French Revolution broke out and the event captured his imagination. Became a liberal Jacobin and remained one all his life - believed in overthrowing old regime, execution of monarchy, opening of government and army careers to talents not birth, supported spreading of reloution to rest of Europe by force of arms in order to overthrow feudalism. Became supporter of Napoleon and Napoloenic ideal of energetic and heroic individual (in film JS encourages himself to do risky things by using expresions taken from military - attack first, urging himself "to arms!" etc.

S's Jacobinisn partly reaction against his parent's conservative royalism as following quote from Strickland (pp. 18-19) reveals. About reaction of household when news of Louis XVI's execution reaches them. Similar to reaction of M. de Rênal when he sees S's uncle's army trunk with the Imperial eagle on the side. Also his great hostility to the clergy and need for furtiveness in his reading of radical literature. Shows typicaly Stendhalian trait of speaking directly to the reader:

The house shook as the mail-coach from Lyon and paris drew up outside. My father rose to his feet: "I must go and find out what those monsters have done.'
I thought to myself: 'I hope the traitor will be executed.' Then I began to reflect on the extreme difference between my own feelings and those of my father. I felt a tender love for our regiments which I would watch from my grandfather's window on their way through the Place Grenette. I imagined that the king wanted the Austrians to beat them. (As you will notice, although barely ten years old, I was not far from the truth.) But I must confess that the concern for the king's fate shown by that vicar-general Rey and the other priests who were friends of the family, would have been enough to make me wish for his death. I considerd at the time, on the strength mainly of the verses of a song which I would sing to myself when there was no danger of being heard by my father or Aunt Séraphie, that it was one's strict duty to die for one's country when this was necessary. What did I care for the life of a traitor who, by means of a secret letter, could slaughter one of the fine regiments I saw go through the Place Grenette? I was passing judgement on my family and myself when my father returned. I still see him in his white flannel frock-coat, which he had not bothered to take off, as the mail office was only a few yards away.
'It's all over,' he said with adeep sigh. 'They've murdered him.'
I experienced one of the most intense moments of joy I have ever known in my life. The reader will perhaps think I am cruel , but I am still the same at the age of fifty-two as I was a the age of ten... I could fill ten pages describing that evening, but if the readers of 1880 are as feebel-hearted as the fashionable circle of 1835, both the scene and the hero will fill them with deep aversion and even horror, as those papier mâché souls would say. As for myself, I would always feel a great deal more pity for a man condemned to death for murder (like JS?) without entirel conclusive proof than for a king who found himself in the same position. The death of a guilty king is always useful in terrorem to prevent the strange abuses into which such people are driven by the extreme folly produced by absolute power.

S's schooling was by private tutor who was a priest (like the Rênal children in RB). In 1796-99 S attended the École centrale de Grenoble, part of the new system of écoles centrales set up to apply revolutionary educational theory of such liberals as Condorcet, Talleyrand, Siéyès and Destutt de Tracy. This involved a flexible system of optional courses which replaced the rigidity of the Jesuit colleges (as well as the rigiidty of the future lycées set up by Napoleon). The students were taught new subjects such as the natural sciences, art, philosophy (especially rationalism and the utilitarianism of Condillac and Tracy). An amusing story of S's first duel fought against a fellow pupil who obstructed his view of the model (naked?) in an art class (several dules mentioned in RB). These new subjects replaced the traditional study of French and Latin. EC system abolished by Napoleon in 1803 and replaced by highly organised lycée and with rigid syllabus and military discipline. The liberal Destutt de Tracy was dismissed from the Committee of Public Instruction and the EC philosophy course was changed inn order to exclude the teaching of liberal philosophy. S just managed to complete his education under the EC before Napoleon's counter-revolution.

In 1799 S received the first prize in mathematics and decided to leave Grenoble for Paris in order to continue his study at the École polytechnique. But when he arrived in Paris he got a job with the Ministry of War 1799-1806, then he entered the army (1806-14). Saw service in Italy, Russia and Austria as an army administrator rather than front-line soldier. Achieved rapid promotion in the army. Became the administrator of the Imperial domains in Brunswick, inspector of the property and buildings of the crown, was attached to the commissariat during the disastrous Moscow campaign, organised the defences of Grenoble when France was invaded by the allies. When he was in Paris he attended various liberal salons and went to the theatre (early theatre critic for newspapers).

After the fall of Napoleon S returned to Milan, in Italy where he lived on his military pension. Felt he was unable to face living in conservative France of the retored monarchy. Assumed the nom de plume of Stendahl (German sounding name) and began his writing career. Large ranges of subjects covered:

  • art and music: Histoire de la peinture en Italie (1817) and biographies of Mozart and Haydn in 1815
  • travel literature which was a thinly disguised way of injecting social, economic and political criticism into an aceeptable subject: Rome, Naples et Florence en 1817 (1817)
  • a biography of Napoleon in 1818
  • other non fiction works such as De l'amour (1822)

After 7 years of virtual exile in Italy S retunred to Paris in 1821 where he renews his contacts with liberal circles, especially the salons of Madame de Tracy and Mme Cabanis. has some contact with an underground liberal republican revolutionary secret society, the Carbonari, which opposed the conservative restoration, especially when the hopes of seeing the charter respected were dashed. Began in Italy by liberals inspired by ideals of 1789 but who opposed Napoleon. Demanded a liberal constitution and end to arbitrary and autocratic rule. (In RB JS asked by priest in seminary if he was a member of any secret societies).

In early 1820s S begins career as jourtnalist writing for London periodicals (the Paris Monthy Review, the London Magazine, the New Monthly Review) on Parisian cultural and political life during the Restoration. Also art and music critic for the Journal de Paris. Provided him with a good income. Chronicles intellectual life under conservative regime: included reporting on activities of liberal Benjamin Constant, the conspiracy of the Jesuits to regain then old privileges, the affects of the new puritanism introduced by the Napoleonic Code's articles on marriage and divorce and wife's duties in the home, the gradual realxation of strict censorship, the revival of mysticism and religion in the fashionable salons of Paris. Much of this material used in RB about life for nobles in Parisian society of 1820s.

1823 published work in defence of romanticism, opposes arid classicism of the 16th and 17thC: Racine et Shakespeare (1823)

1825 entered debate about who were the truly productive members of society: D'un nouveau copmplot contre les industriels (1825). Attacked the elitism and technocracy of the Saint-Simonians who argued that only the banking and industrial classes were productive and hence should rule society. S argues that intellectual class is also productive and denies that any one class should rule over others.

1829 begins work on novel Julien, which became RB. Published 1830.

S had actually predicted coming of revolution in 1830 in RB. Welcomed end of Charles X oppressive regime. Requests liberal Guizot in new government for a post. Sent to Trieste as French Consul between 1830-3? Harrassed by Austrian secret police. Made pesona non grata and forced to move to Cività vecchia (Vatican in Rome). Historians who have examined Austrian police files have discovered that S was expelled from Milan in 1828 because critical comments in Rome, Naples et Florence upset the Austrian censors. The censors again acted to have S removed when they declared him person non grata in Trieste in 183? The Austrian Prefect of Police in Vienna denounced S's liberal views and S's criticism of the Austrian occupation of Northernb Italy in his 3 books on Italy. When S was in Rome he was watched just as closely by the potifical plice. He was occused of attending revolutionary liberal clubs (the Carbonari). In typical fashion S responds in witty fashion to his censors. In Voyage dans le Midi de France he writes:

Messieurs le police, here there is nothing political. I am discussing wine,... and gothic and romanesque churches. The author is 35 years old and is travelling on business. He is an iron merchant. (p. 114)

In Promenades dans Rome he describes the inconvenience of travelling while being followed by police spies. In many of his private diaries and notes he uses a secret code or abbrviations to avoid the possibility of being implicated in sedition if his papers are seized by the police.

Continued to write autobiograhpical material much of which was not not published in his lifetime: Souvenirs d'égotisme, Lucien Leuven, La vie de Henri Brulard Between 1836-9 travels in France, Northern Spain and Switzerland before finally returning to Paris. Major travel books were Mémoires d'un touriste (1838) and Voyage dans le midi de France which contain much important social commentary and economic and political criticism.

Another major novel published in 1839 La Chartreuse de Parme (1839).Between 1839-1842 S returns to Cività vecchia but suffers from an attack of apoplexy. Returns to Paris and dies March 1842.

C. The Film by Claude Autant-Lara and the Novel

1. Characters and Plot of The Red and the Black

Julien Sorel (played by Gérard Philipe who earlier played Fabricio in another adaptation of a Stendhal novel, The Charterhouse of Parma (1948)) is the son of a lowly-born carpenter who is frustrated by the conservative and repressive society of post-revolutionary Restoration France (1815-1830). He regrets that he had not been born 20 years earlier so he could have distinguished himself in one of Napoleon's armies ("The Red" refers to the colour of a soldier's uniform), where JS is convinced his talent would have been recognised and rewarded. JS idolises Napoleon, his favourite book being Napoleon's memoirs from Saint Hélène, and keeps a picture of the Emperor hidden in his room. The only way to satisfy his ambition in the France of the 1820s is to pursue a career as a priest ("The Black" refers to the colour of the clergy's robes). Although he supports the secular ideals of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, he suppresses his true feelings in order to train as a Jesuit priest in a repressive seminary. He then uses his connections in the church to get a series of appointments in influential families to rise up the social ladder, first as a tutor to the children of Monsieur de la Rênal, a provincial mayor, and then as personal secretary to the distinguished and wealthy noble Marquis de la Mole in Paris. Along the way, as a part of his attempt to climb the social ladder and overcome the disability of his low social class, JS seduces and then falls in love with the wife of M. de la Rênal, Louise (played by Danielle Darrieux), who is striken with guilt at what she has done. Nevertheless she continues to love JS and, out of jealousy and with the conivance of a priest, engineers JS's downfall. While with de la Mole, JS is seduced by his daughter, Mathilde (Antonella Lualdi), a young woman of some intellect and education who has read many of the radical and banned books (i.e. liberal, enlightened and revolutionary) in her father's library. JS uses her to assert his disdain for and desire to better the upper class and achieves his greatest victory when Mathilde grovels at his feet, calling him master and admitting she is his slave, thus reversing their true social relationship. M becomes pregnant and decides to renounce her social status and class by marrying JS. On the eve of their engagement/marriage JS is outfitting himself in a red soldier's uniform, about to celebrate his final victory when he learns that the jealous Louise de la Rênal has written to the Marquis informing him of their affair, thus ruining his chances of marriage. In revenge, though he still professes to love his previous lover, JS shoots Louise de la Rênal during a church service. Although Louise is not fatally injured, JS is arrested, tried and sentenced to death by guillotining at the hands of a court stacked with his social superiors who resent his youth, his education and his audacity to attempt to rise above his social station.

2. Themes of a Political and Social Nature in the Film

  • JS's speech to the court about the true reason for his execution - to be made an example of in order to discourage young men from the lower classes from rising above their station (p. 484 of Penguin edition of novel)
Here begins the last day of my life, thought Julien. Soon he felt himself inflamed by the idea of duty...
'Gentlemen of the Jury,' he said, 'a horror of contempt, which I thought I could defy at the hour of death, obliges me to speak. Gentlemen, I have not the honour to belong to the same class as yourselves, you see in me a peasant urged to revolt against the lowliness of his lot.
'I ask no mercy of you,' Julien went on, his voice growing stronger, 'I am under no illusion; death awaits me; the penalty will be just. I have been guilty of an attempt on the life of a woman most worthy of all respect, of all homage. My crime is atrocious, and it was premeditated. I have therefore, Gentlemen of the Jury, deserved death. But, even were I less guilty, I see before me men who, without pausing to consider what pity my youth may deserve, will wish to punish in my person and forever discourage that body of young men who, born in an inferior station, and in some degree oppressed by poverty, have the good fortune to secure for themselves a sound education, and the audacity to mingle with what the pride of rich men calls society.
'That is my crime, Gentlemen, and it will be punished with all the more severity in that, in point of fact, I am not being tried by my peers. In the jury-box I see not a single peasant who has grown rich, but simply and solely men of the middle-class enraged against me...'
For twenty minutes Julien went on speaking in this strain; he said everything that was in his heart. (p. 484)
  • the image of the red soldier's uniform: at the trial, the honour guard organised by M. de la Rênal to celebrate the royal visit, the young nobles in Paris, the presentation of "the Cross" (a medal) to JS by the Marquis, JS trying on uniform before his wedding (practising saluting before mirror)
  • the image of the black priest's robes: the Jesuits at the seminary, the young bishop conducting the royal service (practising the benediction before a mirror), JS's black suits provided by his employers, the black robes of the judges
  • the references to Napoleon, JS's idol/hero: his father throws JS's favourite book Mémorial de Saint-Hélène into the river (not in film but p. 37 of novel), the Imperial eagle on JS's uncle's trunk, the picture of Napoleon JS keeps in his room, references to Napoleon during ball
  • the relationship between people of different class/social staus: patron and protogé, priests and married women, master and servant (where to eat and sleep in household, provision of clothes); bishop and the king (even king bows down before bishop), husband and wife, higher status woman and her lower class lover (Mathilde's reversal of master/slave role), noble men lose face if duel with low class man (de Croisenois vs carpenter's son JS), gentry in jury vs JS at trial, negro in jail. Seduction of higher class women used by JS in his struggle against his masters.
  • the scene at the ball where Mathilde and JS talk with Count Altamira about politics and revolution. Count Altamira, wanted for execution by his monarch, is a Spanish liberal revolutionary in exile after the defeat of the revolution. Discusses with Julien the reasons for the success and failure of the French Revolution, they both admire Danton who, because of his low birth, would not be anybody in the Restoration, failure of liberal revolution in Spain because not ruthless enough.

Handout on political conversation at ball.




A. Summary

B. Introduction

C. Biography of Theodor Fontane (1819-1898)

TF descended from French Huguenots who fled France when the Edict of Nantes (guarateeing Protestants religious toleration) was revoked in 168? Original family name was Fonatine but germanified to Fontane. In spite of this concession to Germanness, many of the French immigrants in Germany tried to retain their "ethnic" background in a French "colony" in Berlin. TF born in 1819 in Neuruppin in Brandenburg. Father was an apothecary/pharmacist. In 1826 moved to Swinemünde on the Baltic coast (the town of "Kessin" in EB). TF also trained as an apothecary and moved to Berlin in 1833 in order to complete his training. Completed apprenticeship by 1836 and returned to Baltic coast to work in father's shop.

Tension in TF's life between desire for financial security for himself and family and his desire to write full-time. First literary contacxts made in the cafés and reading rooms (for newspapers) of Berlin. Early literary activity writing poems and working as journalist. Got a reputation for writing humorous and critical sketches. In 1844-45 volunteered to serve in the Grenadier Guard Regiment. Important because it led to first trip to London where he made contact with English aristocrats which he retained throughout his life. Another source of tension for TF was between his bourgeois origins and bourgeois readership vs his sympathy for and attracion to the aristocracy who spurned him.

During the 1848 Revolution TF showed active support for the liberal and constitutional ideals of the revolutionaries. Elected a delgate to the Frankfurt Assembly. Wrote for democratic magazines such as the Berliner Zeitungshalle, which was the organ of the Central Committee of the German Democrats, on the difficult problem of combining the move for unity of the German states with the desire for liberal freedoms. Also during this period TF worked in a Christian Hospital teaching nurses pharmacy. This was the last time he had to work as a pharmacist as he was soon able to become a full-time journalist. First full-time journalism job was as the Berlin correspondent for the radical democratic Dresdner Zeitung between November 1849 and April 1850.

Following the defeat and collapse of the revolution a period of political reaction took place and the radical press was forced to close or go underground. TF had to put an end to his political journalism and took a job with the press section of the Prussian Ministry of the Interior writing cultural reviews for their Feuilleton. In 1855 he was able to move to London again as the editor of an Anglo-German news service backed by the Prussian government where he worked until 185? Whilst in London TF read widely in English history, litrerature and politics. Particularly interested in the 17thC English Revolution (end result was constitutional monarchism) and the historical novels of Sir Walter Scott.

After 1859 TF was able to cease working for the government and was able to become a free-lance journalist and writer. Main areas of literary activity were following:

  • travel writing - Aus England (1860), Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg (1862-1882) 4 vols.
  • war correspondence - wrote reports on the German wars of unification for the ultra-conservative paper the Kreuzzeitung (against Denmark 1864, Austria 1866, France 1870). Collected in to book form - Der Schleswig-Holsteinsche Krieg in Jahre 1864 (1866), Der deutsche Krieg von 1866 (1870), Der Krieg gegen Frankreich 1870-71 (1873). Arrested as a suspected spiy by the French during war in October 1870. TF imprisoned for 2 months and later wrote an account of his experienmces as a prisoner of war Kriegsgefangen (1871).
  • poetry and literary criticism
  • novels - Did not begin writing novels un til 56 years old. Vor dem Storm (1878)histrorical novel about the Napoleonic wars, L'adultera (1882), Cécile (1886), Irrungen, Wirrungen (1888), Frau Jenny Treibel (1893), Effi Briest (1895), Der Stechlin (1897). Themes include predicament of women and life of Junker class in Prussia in late 19thC.
  • journalism - war correspondent for conservative newspaper during 1860s. During 1871-1889 theatre critic for liberal paper Vossische Zeitung.

1. Fontane's Politics

Difficult to place TF accurately. On one hand, shows sympathy for democratic and liberal politics. Active in democratic politics in 1848-49 Wrote for liberal liberal newspapers after 1871 as theatre critic. Mixed in bourgeois liberal cultural circles. Correspondence reveals support for some radical liberal causes such as opposition to militarism, imperialism. Novels document slow decay of decadent Junker aristocratic class. On the other he worked for conservative and reactionary Prussian government press section in 1850s, then was war correspondent for ultra-conservative paper which supported Bismarck's military solution to the problem of unification of Germany. Travel writing about Brandenburg glorifies traditional life of the Junker aristocrats. How to make sense of this? Was TF an opportunist who wrote for whomever would be interested in publishing his work? Perhaps he had deeply contradcitory views which he could not reconcile - attracted to the values and way of life of the aristocracy but awate that their time had come and gone. Aditional fact that he courted aristocratic circles but never accepted by them because of his class origins.

Examine three examples in greater depth:

  • activity in 1848 revolution
  • his private correspondence in 1890s
  • his novels dealing with the Junker class

2. Fontane's Activity in the 1848 Revolution

TF wrote his memoirs in the 1890s. Important source of information about his activities in 1848: Meine Kinderjahre (1894) and Von Zwanzig bis Dreißig (1898). In 1848 TF was 29 and had already been involved in radical and liberal literary circles. Later recollections show that TF's views changed from initial enthusiasm, to second thoughts, to complete disillusionment with politics.Contemproary letter shows TF's clear support for the revolution (letter to Lepel 12/10/48). Also that TF supported Constant and Spencer's view that individual freedom was more important than any particular political system:

What concerns me is freedom, not its poltiical form. I don't want a republic in order to say that I live in one. I wnat a free people. Naming something does nothing towards realising it. I don't hate the kings but the power which they carry with. They don't play fairly and that why I wnat a republic. There can be no German freedom with 37 princes...
I am so deeply convinced of this last truth and the opening up of all special interests, each small pretension and all advantages of honour and glory of the great German Fatherland has become a great matter of conscience for me, that on account of this powerful purpose the Princes must fall, even if they were angels. But those who shall fall have been fallen angels for a long time. (Verchan, p. 32)

Remak discusses TF's initial enthusiasm and the way in which he made fun of his youthful radicalism in later life (Remak pp. 10-11). He had second thoughts about the capacity of the German people to create a free society and blamed this on their social and political immaturity. Even as late as 1898 he had a very low opinion of the German people's ability to use elections in a mature fashion and his disillusionment with elections and Parliament has much in common with Spencer's. In a letter to his son Friedrich in June 1898 TF said:

All day long I watched you sit next to the ballot box - a sight fit for the gods. This whole election business cannot possibly be wisdom's final and most splendid stage. In England or America perhaps, or even certainly - but in Germany, where first a policeman, and then a battalion, and then a battery stand behind every voter, it all seems like a waste of time to me. What must stand behind a popular electionis popular sovereignty, and if that is missing, none of the rest matters... Anyone who wants to make a revolution in Prussia must be very optimistic, frivolous, or very brave. That is true even today, despite the Social Democrats. (Remak, p. 12)

TF's initial support and then disillusionment with the liberal ideals of the 1848 revolution was a typical reaction of German liberals to the failure of the revolution. It led to the liberals' willingness in the 1850s the accommodate themselves to the status quo and Bismarck's military power as an unavoidable fact of life. In his memoirs written nearly 50 years after the event TF ascribes the failure of liberal constitutional democracy to 2 factors: the absence of a liberal tradition in the German states and the mistake of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV in not realising his historic mission to accept the consequences of the French Revolution in Germany:

Immediately following the febraury days (1848), there was ferment everywhere, and Berlin was no exception. One was tired of the old approach to things. Not that one had sufffered particularly under it; no, it was not that. It was, rather, that one was ashamed of it.
If one looked at politics, everyhting was antiquated, and at that, attempts were being made to bring back things that were even more ancient and to surround this debris with a sort of halo, for the pretense was that one 'wished to serve true freedom and healthy progress.' And in the process, there were constant references to the 'country of ancient wisdom and political continuity.' Yet one had overlooked one minor detail here. It was that England had always known freedom, while Prussia never had. England had grown in the age of Magna Charta; Prussia, in that of flourishing absolutism, in the age of Louis XIV, Charles XII, and Peter the Great. Before our states had been formed or combined, there did exist in individual parts of the country medieval feudal constitutions which one now wished to use again with the addition, perhaps, of some new splendous. This, then, so the word went, was 'historically sound' and much better than a 'Consitution' which, by royal pronouncement, supposedly was something lifeless, a mere piece of paper.
It all made you feel that the court and the persons close to the court had overslpet by half a century. (Remak, pp. 13-14)

3. Fontane's Private Correspondence in the 1890s

Yet in spite of TF's resigantion about missed opportunities, the political immaturity of the German people, and his disillusionment with electoral politics, TF continued to hold radical liberal political views which he only revealed in the privacy of his correspondence with friends. Here it is we get a truer picture of his political views. In a letter written to Georg Friedlaender in 1897, a year before he died, TF shows his hostility to the aristocracy and crown, and the militarism and imperialism sweeping Germany in the 1880s and 1890s, in the following appraisal of Emperor Wilhelm II:

You mention the speeches given by an exalted tongue, in which so much is said and even more is passed over in silence. I always lose my temper when I read them in my good Vossin, although I know myself free from disloyalty and feel gratitude and not just understanding for many of the things desired 'on high.' What I like about the Emperor is the total break with the old. What I do not like about the Emperor is something which contradicts this: the attempt to restore the very old. In some ways, he liberates us from the empty forms and appearances of old Prussia; he makes a break with the rudeness, the samllness, the penny-pinching petty bourgeois ways of the period of 1813. By and large, he has new trousers made instead of patching the old ones...
He has a million soldiers and wants to have a million battleships too. He dreams (and let me hold this dream very much to his credit) of humiliating England. Germany is to be on top, in each and every thing. I rather like all this - I won't discuss right now whether it is clever or practical - and I would gladly follow him on his tightrope walk if only I could see the right sort of chalk under his feet and the proper balancing-staff in his hands...
What I suspect the Emperor intends doing cannot be done with 'weapons' anyway. When I look at all our military efforts I feel as though in the year 1400 all ingenuity had been directed towards making a knight's armour bullet-proof. Instead, one finally decided on the only correct solution of throwing that armor away entirely. There will be be an inevitable repetition of this: armor must go; other forces must replace it - money, intelligence, enthusiasm. If the Emperor can win these three for his side, he and fifty million Germans can take up any sort of fight. With tin hats for his grenadiers, with medals, ribbons, and an impoverished country gentry 'which follows its margrave through thick and thin' he cannot do it.
Only popular enthusiasm can perform the miracles he wants, but to awaken it he would have to start slicing the sausage from the other end. The disease of Prussia - and therefore of all of Germany - is the East Elbian nobility. One can visit it as one visits the Egyptian Museum, and one may bow before Ramses and Amenhotep, but to let it govern the country for its own pleasure, in the delusion this nobility is the country - that is our misfortune, and as long as this state of affairs lasts, any increase in germany's power and respect abroad is out of the question. What our Emperor takes to be a pillar are only feet of clay. We need an entirely new substructure. (Remak, pp. 74-5)

TF was not only opposed to the power of the nobility and the military within Germany but also its policy of imperial expansion abroad. He expressed his opposition to colonialism in a series of letter to his English friend James Morris in general terms and then with specific reference to English imperialism. In a letter 1897 he reveals anti-colonial sentiments which Cobden would have shared:

The whole policy of colonialism is stupid: stay at home and look after yourself with honour. Each person has to look after themselves where God has put them, not in someonme else's backyard (Nest is word he uses).

In a letter to Morris the following year TF predicts the collapse of the British Empiore, the rise and subsequent collapse of the Russian empire and eventual rise of period when nations will concerned with their own affairs:

The English rule of India must collapse and it is a miracle that it has lasted until today. It will all, not because it may have committed mistakes and crimes (all of that counts for nothing in politics), no, it will fall because its time is up, because "another power" is threatening to appear. The "other power" is called Russia, but Russia too will only have a short time, and a life which concerns itself with its onw national and religious matters and with ancient tradition, will finally triumph and last for a oong time. (Vierchau, 227-9)

D. The Picture of the Junker Class in Fontane's Novels

Because his private correspondence was not published until long after his death the full range of TF's political views were not well known. In his life time he was best known for his depiction of the Prussian Junker class in his novels. The impression one gets is of TF's fondness for many of the qualities of the traditional landed aristocracy or Junkers. Included courtesy, courage, loyalty, simplicity of life style, honour, generosity, pride. This admiration is qualified by realisation that their time has come, that their rigid and blind adherence to traditional "feudal" values will lead to their own destruction (and perhaps the nation they lead as well). TF believed that the Junkers were "better than their reputation," that behind the formal mask of the feudal lord there was an interesting and warm person, even a liberal person. Perhaps like TF himself there was a discrepency between their public and private personalities. Following quote from his travel book on Brandenburg Wanderungen where this ambivalence becomes very clear. Describes what one sees when one visists a Junker in the privacy of his own home. One finds a liberal like TF:

Overnight, he has become a different man. As soon as he is no longer on the defensive, and no longer besieged in Kreistag or Reichstag (where, following old tactics to the letter, he feels that the best defense lies in the attack), he takes off the spiked coat of mail which he himself has found uncomfortable by now and puts on the imaginary garment of his ancient virtues. These virtues are a good deal of kindness, an even greater one of common sense, and the greatest of all: a critical spirit. With a pleasure that soon infects his audience, he will put everything under the magnifying glass of his skepticism, uttering opinions that are so radical and progressive that one would think the river flowing by his old craggy tower was named the Hudson or the Potomac, and not the Nieplitz or the Notte. What is behind it is nothing but jeu d'esprit, however, and there is not the least intention of remembering any of it in the sobering hours of the following morning, let alone of doing anyhting about it. Even as a pure game it is remarkable, and it proves sufficiently taht htere is something bright and sharp and sophisticated in him and that the roots of that selfishness which one so strongly dislikes in him might have many reasons - but that narrow-mindedness is not among them...
All in all, they are better than their reputation, these much maligned 'Junkers' - different and better... (Remak, pp. 29-30)

The histoprian Remark observes that, "like a good chinese cook, Fontane still mixed the sweet with the sour when presenting the Prussian squire to his readers." (p. 31). The "sweet and sour" aspects of the Junker class are described in TF's novels. Example of Irrungen, Wirrungen (1888). Resigned recognition that aristocracy has outlived its usefulness. Plot is a love affair between a seamstress and an aristocratic officer who, for financial reasons, marries the daught of a wealthy Junker. Both accept their fate out of weakness and resignation. Power of novel comes from TF ability to show that, although choice is in fact possible, both choose to remain true to their class and values. Another example in Der Stechlin (1897), TF's last novel, where Pastor Lorenzen (perhaps expressing TF's own views) laments immanent end of aristocracy:

I love our old families. I have cause to love them, and I just about believe taht everybody loves them. The old families are still popular, even today. But they waste these sympathies, they throw them away, when after all everybody is in need of such sympathies, every person and every class. Our old families all suffer from the deception 'that things could not run without them - daß es ohne sie nicht gehe.' But that is far from being so. Things could assuredly run without them. They no longer are the pillar on which everything rests. They are the old roof, made of stone and covered with moss, which still bears and presses down but which no longer protects us from rain and hail. Who can tell, the days of an aristocracy may return. For the time being, however, we see democracy where we look. A new era is beginning. I believe a better one and a happier one. And if not happier, at least an age with more oxygen in the air, an age when we can breathe better. And the more feely a man breathes, the better he lives. (Remak, pp. 35-6)

TF's ideal Junker aristocrat is described in a passage in his travel book Wanderungen. It is a story about the refusal of Colonel Friedrich Adolf von der Marwitz of Friedersdorf to obey an order of Frederick the Great's to loot a castle. What TF admired was not the unquestioning obedience of the Junkers to the crown, but the independence of spirit and feeling of personal honour that would not allow him to comit a crime, even if ordered to do so by the king. TF believed that this spirit of honour and integrity was missing from life in 19thC Germany. What is called "Männerstolz vor Königthronen" (individual integrity before obedience to the throne). The Junker class had become decadent and had lost it. The middle class did not aspire to such virtues and the 19thC was worse off for its lack.

Handout of TF's story of Marwitz.

This should contradict the idea that TF was an uncritical observer of the Junker class. He admired an older, perhaps ficticious, tradition of Junkerdom with strong personal honour and integrity, who were prepared to resist authority if it clashed with it.

E. Theodor Fontane's Novel Effi Briest (1895)

1. Summary of the Plot

Effi is the young and vivacious daughter of Herr and Luise von Briest who live on their traditional family estate in Hohen-Cremmen. Effi's hand in marriage is asked for by Baron Geert von Innstetten, a veteran of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and now a provincial governor in the district of Kessin (a Baltic port town). Instetten is the same age as Effi's mother (38) and once courted her many years before. Instetten and Effi marry and, after a brief honeymoon in Italy, go to live in Kessin (modelled on Neuruppen where TF grew up), a boring provincial adminstrative town where Instetten is slowly climbing up the bureaucratic ladder. His aim is to be promoted to an important administrative post in Berlin the capital. Two things concern Effi about live in Kessin - it is extremely boring since she has no one her own age to talk to and all the people of the right social class live outside the town on their estates, and she believes the house Instetten lives in is haunted by the ghost of a dead Chinaman. The foyer has a shark and a crocodile hanging from the ceiling and in an upstairs room Effi thinks she can hear the rustle of skirts and footsteps. Effi gives birth to a girl called "Little Annie."

One day she is introduced to and old friend of Instetten, Major von Crampas who is married with two children. Crampas is attracted to Effi and, during the many periods when Instetten is away on government business, begins to court her with attention and letters. They go for walks and horse rides in the sand dunes. On Christams eve one of the sleighs is bogged in some ice and Crampas and Effi are forced to share a sleigh. During the ride home Crampas makes an advance to Effi, whispering in her ear and kissing her hand. Instetten is promoted to position in a ministry in Berlin and Effi is pleased to be able to leave Kessin and major Crampas.

After six years in Berlin Annie falls and hits her head on an iron (boot?) scraper beside the stairs. The maidservants search through Effi's swewing room to find bandages and uncover a bundle of letters. Instetten sess them and discovers they are the secret love letters Crampas wrote to Effi in Kessin. In a state of shock Instetten consults his friend Privy Councillor Wüllersdorf about what to do. Wüllersdorf councils Instetten to forget what happened six and a half years ago, but Instetten believes that his sense of honour and the code of ethics of his class demand that he challenge Crampas to a duel. Crampas chooses a spot in the dunes in Kessin for the duel and is mortally wounded by Instetten. The duel happens while Effi is taking a cure at a spring and she is told that Instetten never wants to see her again by a letter from her mother who also turns her back on her discgraced daughter. Effi is forced to find rooms of her own in Berlin and is forbidden to see her duaghter Annie again. With the help of a Minister's influential wife Effi arranges to see her daughter some three years later. However, she is appalled at how Instetten has indoctrinated her with his cose of values and false virtuousness. Effi is diagnosed to have tuberculocis (consumption), the typical disease of the poor, and so her parents finally relent and allow her to reurn to the family estate. Instetten finally realises how empty his life has become, how little he has got out of his successful career as a bureaucrat. Effi dies of her disease and is buried at the family estate.

2. Important Passages in the Novel

  • The birth of Effi's child is linked to politics and Prussian military victory. Annie is born on 3rd July, the anniversary of the Battle of Königgrätz 1866 when Prussia decisively defeated Austria, ending Austrain dominance in central Europe and beginning Prussian dominance. On that day the Austrians lost 24,000 men killed or wounded and 13,000 taken prisoner. The doctor attending Effi regrets she has given birth to a girl, who could not grow up to participate in future Prussian victories. Speculates that "next one will be different" without knowing of course how dreadful WW1 will be.
Dr. Hannemann patted the young mother's hand and said: 'It's the anniversary of the battle of Königgrätz today. A pity it's a girl. But the next one may be different, and the Prussians have lots of victories to celebrate. (p. 110)

Later, the toast given by a friend at the christening of Annie reveals Junker fear of revolution and change. INability to adapt to new political and economic conditions of late 19thC Germany (p. 111):

Shortly afterwards, old Herr von Borcke rose to toast Instetten: 'Ladies and Gentlemen, we live in difficult times, rebellion, impudence, lack of discipline wherever we look. But as long as we still have men and may I add wives and mothers' ... he he bowed and made an elegant gesture towards Effi... 'as long as we still have men like Baron Instetten, whom I'm proud to call my friend, then all is still well with us, this old Prussia of ours can still hold its own. Yes, Pomerania and Brandenburg will hold the fort and we shall stamp on the poisonous dragon's head of revolution. Our firmness and loyalty will prevail. The Catholics, our brothers, whom we must respect whil opposing them, have the rock of St Peter, but we have the rocher de bronze (a reference to Bismarck by Frederick William I). All health to baron Instetten. (p. 111)
  • Instetten's discussion with Wüllersdorf about duelling with Crampas. (pp. 213-16). Concludes that the lapse of time has not reduced his feeling of humiliation. Fears being despised by society for taking action to avenge his honour. The evolution of the Junker code of honour stronger than any individual's happiness. Believes he must act as he does.
  • Effi's Mother's "letter of renunciation" (p. 237) telling her why the Social Values of their Class ("Society") demand that they shun her as well (p. 232). Effi will have to move out of the social class in which she was raised because it will exclude her. Her parents cannot offer her "asylum" (p. 232) because they cannot face ostracism by their peers. By excluding Effi from their home they are seen to be making a public statement of condemnation of her actions.
  • Effi's disgust with the way Instetten has indoctrinated Annie, trained her like a parrot, disgusted at his false sense of honour and his false virtuousness (pp. 248-9). Calls Instetten "small" minded, cruel, and a schoolmaster rather than a loving husband and companion. Also too preoccupied with the advancement of his career and his sense of honour. Instetten's duel is described as "stupidity" and bloody "murder." Declares she can live independently of him and his values.
  • The realisation of the Junkers (Effi's parents and Instetten that their code of honour and regard for the opinion of society has had a very high cost. Fraun von Briest is persuaded by her husband that parental love is more important than "the catechism and the claims of society" (p. 251). Frau von Briest realsied that in having Effi back their lives will be forever changed, that they will not be accepted by their peers.

Instetten confesses to his friend Wüllersdorf that his promotions and distinctions have not made him happy, his carrying out of his class's code of honour in killing Crampas and banishing Effi from his home has not given him any personal happiness. Concludes that honour and culture is "fiddle-faddle" (260) and is responsible for all his problems. Wülersdorf recommends resignation and acceptance, "to hold the fort until you drop" (p. 261) i.e. to maintain without question the traditional Junker values until the bitter end, and to seek happiness in the smaller things of life, such a flowers and skipping young girls.

  • In East German version of the film, there is an important statement about the Junker code of duelling. The director has a head shot of Instetten in front of a windmill after fatally shooting Crampas in sand dunes. There are several references in novel to "Utpatel's mill" (p. 139 for example). Has an interesting meaning in context of East German (i.e. Marxist) film. Director seems to be linking Instetten's act with the chief means of power in the feudal period - the windmill. Dueling itself is a feudal remnant which is out of place in the modern capitalist world.




A. Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest (1895)

1. East German Version

Made for East German television. Director Laderer about who I know nothing.

2. West German Version

3. Characters and Plot of Effi Briest

Effi is the young and vivacious daughter of Herr and Luise von Briest who live on their traditional family estate in Hohen-Cremmen. Effi's hand in marriage is asked for by Baron Geert von Innstetten, a veteran of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and now a provincial governor in the district of Kessin (a Baltic port town). Instetten is the same age as Effi's mother (38) and once courted her many years before. Instetten and Effi marry and, after a brief honeymoon in Italy, go to live in Kessin (modelled on Neuruppen where TF grew up), a boring provincial adminstrative town where Instetten is slowly climbing up the bureaucratic ladder. His aim is to be promoted to an important administrative post in Berlin the capital. Two things concern Effi about live in Kessin - it is extremely boring since she has no one her own age to talk to and all the people of the right social class live outside the town on their estates, and she believes the house Instetten lives in is haunted by the ghost of a dead Chinaman. The foyer has a shark and a crocodile hanging from the ceiling and in an upstairs room Effi thinks she can hear the rustle of skirts and footsteps. Effi gives birth to a girl called "Little Annie."

One day she is introduced to and old friend of Instetten, Major von Crampas who is married with two children. Crampas is attracted to Effi and, during the many periods when Instetten is away on government business, begins to court her with attention and letters. They go for walks and horse rides in the sand dunes. On Christams eve one of the sleighs is bogged in some ice and Crampas and Effi are forced to share a sleigh. During the ride home Crampas makes an advance to Effi, whispering in her ear and kissing her hand. Instetten is promoted to position in a ministry in Berlin and Effi is pleased to be able to leave Kessin and major Crampas.

After six years in Berlin Annie falls and hits her head on an iron (boot?) scraper beside the stairs. The maidservants search through Effi's swewing room to find bandages and uncover a bundle of letters. Instetten sess them and discovers they are the secret love letters Crampas wrote to Effi in Kessin. In a state of shock Instetten consults his friend Privy Councillor Wüllersdorf about what to do. Wüllersdorf councils Instetten to forget what happened six and a half years ago, but Instetten believes that his sense of honour and the code of ethics of his class demand that he challenge Crampas to a duel. Crampas chooses a spot in the dunes in Kessin for the duel and is mortally wounded by Instetten. The duel happens while Effi is taking a cure at a spring and she is told that Instetten never wants to see her again by a letter from her mother who also turns her back on her discgraced daughter. Effi is forced to find rooms of her own in Berlin and is forbidden to see her duaghter Annie again. With the help of a Minister's influential wife Effi arranges to see her daughter some three years later. However, she is appalled at how Instetten has indoctrinated her with his cose of values and false virtuousness. Effi is diagnosed to have tuberculocis (consumption), the typical disease of the poor, and so her parents finally relent and allow her to reurn to the family estate. Instetten finally realises how empty his life has become, how little he has got out of his successful career as a bureaucrat. Effi dies of her disease and is buried at the family estate.

4. Themes of a Political and Social Nature in the Book and Film

  • The birth of Effi's child is linked to politics and Prussian military victory. Annie is born on 3rd July, the anniversary of the Battle of Königgrätz 1866 when Prussia decisively defeated Austria, ending Austrain dominance in central Europe and beginning Prussian dominance. On that day the Austrians lost 24,000 men killed or wounded and 13,000 taken prisoner. The doctor attending Effi regrets she has given birth to a girl, who could not grow up to participate in future Prussian victories. Speculates that "next one will be different" without knowing of course how dreadful WW1 will be.
Dr. Hannemann patted the young mother's hand and said: 'It's the anniversary of the battle of Königgrätz today. A pity it's a girl. But the next one may be different, and the Prussians have lots of victories to celebrate. (p. 110)

Later, the toast given by a friend at the christening of Annie reveals Junker fear of revolution and change. INability to adapt to new political and economic conditions of late 19thC Germany (p. 111):

Shortly afterwards, old Herr von Borcke rose to toast Instetten: 'Ladies and Gentlemen, we live in difficult times, rebellion, impudence, lack of discipline wherever we look. But as long as we still have men and may I add wives and mothers' ... he he bowed and made an elegant gesture towards Effi... 'as long as we still have men like Baron Instetten, whom I'm proud to call my friend, then all is still well with us, this old Prussia of ours can still hold its own. Yes, Pomerania and Brandenburg will hold the fort and we shall stamp on the poisonous dragon's head of revolution. Our firmness and loyalty will prevail. The Catholics, our brothers, whom we must respect whil opposing them, have the rock of St Peter, but we have the rocher de bronze (a reference to Bismarck by Frederick William I). All health to baron Instetten. (p. 111)
  • Instetten's discussion with Wüllersdorf about duelling with Crampas. (pp. 213-16). Concludes that the lapse of time has not reduced his feeling of humiliation. Fears being despised by society for taking action to avenge his honour. The evolution of the Junker code of honour stronger than any individual's happiness. Believes he must act as he does.
  • Effi's Mother's "letter of renunciation" (p. 237) telling her why the Social Values of their Class ("Society") demand that they shun her as well (p. 232). Effi will have to move out of the social class in which she was raised because it will exclude her. Her parents cannot offer her "asylum" (p. 232) because they cannot face ostracism by their peers. By excluding Effi from their home they are seen to be making a public statement of condemnation of her actions.
  • Effi's disgust with the way Instetten has indoctrinated Annie, trained her like a parrot, disgusted at his false sense of honour and his false virtuousness (pp. 248-9). Calls Instetten "small" minded, cruel, and a schoolmaster rather than a loving husband and companion. Also too preoccupied with the advancement of his career and his sense of honour. Instetten's duel is described as "stupidity" and bloody "murder." Declares she can live independently of him and his values.
  • The realisation of the Junkers (Effi's parents and Instetten that their code of honour and regard for the opinion of society has had a very high cost. Fraun von Briest is persuaded by her husband that parental love is more important than "the catechism and the claims of society" (p. 251). Frau von Briest realsied that in having Effi back their lives will be forever changed, that they will not be accepted by their peers.

Instetten confesses to his friend Wüllersdorf that his promotions and distinctions have not made him happy, his carrying out of his class's code of honour in killing Crampas and banishing Effi from his home has not given him any personal happiness. Concludes that honour and culture is "fiddle-faddle" (260) and is responsible for all his problems. Wülersdorf recommends resignation and acceptance, "to hold the fort until you drop" (p. 261) i.e. to maintain without question the traditional Junker values until the bitter end, and to seek happiness in the smaller things of life, such a flowers and skipping young girls.

  • In East German version of the film, there is an important statement about the Junker code of duelling. The director has a head shot of Instetten in front of a windmill after fatally shooting Crampas in sand dunes. There are several references in novel to "Utpatel's mill" (p. 139 for example). Has an interesting meaning in context of East German (i.e. Marxist) film. Director seems to be linking Instetten's act with the chief means of power in the feudal period - the windmill. Dueling itself is a feudal remnant which is out of place in the modern capitalist world.

B. Claude Autant-Lara's 1954 Film of Stendhal's The Red and The Black: A Chronicle of the Nineteenth Century (1831)

1. Director: Claude Autant-Lara

Born 190? Begins career in films in 1919 as art director before making some avant-garde films 1923-3? Works with famous directors René Clair and Jean Renoir. 1930-32 works in Hollywood on French versions of American films. Returns to France in 1933 to direct first feature film. During WW2 begins association with screen writers Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost and assembles film crew with whom he works until the 1960s. Becomes famous for his post-WW2 films which stressed quality dramas based on good scripting and witty dialogue, often historical dramas critical of social conventions and classes. During 1950s becomes a spokesman for French cinema criticisng the lack of adequate government support and the stultifying influence of American films in France. The French New Wave of cinema made some of his work seem academic, slow-paced and a bit old fashioned. Nevertheless his work retains a sophistication, humanity and critical stance which is still to be appreciated.

2. Characters and Plot of The Red and the Black

Julien Sorel (played by Gérard Philipe who earlier played Fabricio in another adaptation of a Stendhal novel, The Charterhouse of Parma (1948)) is the son of a lowly-born carpenter who is frustrated by the conservative and repressive society of post-revolutionary Restoration France (1815-1830). He regrets that he had not been born 20 years earlier so he could have distinguished himself in one of Napoleon's armies ("The Red" refers to the colour of a soldier's uniform), where JS is convinced his talent would have been recognised and rewarded. JS idolises Napoleon, his favourite book being Napoleon's memoirs from Saint Hélène, and keeps a picture of the Emperor hidden in his room. The only way to satisfy his ambition in the France of the 1820s is to pursue a career as a priest ("The Black" refers to the colour of the clergy's robes). Although he supports the secular ideals of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, he suppresses his true feelings in order to train as a Jesuit priest in a repressive seminary. He then uses his connections in the church to get a series of appointments in influential families to rise up the social ladder, first as a tutor to the children of Monsieur de la Rênal, a provincial mayor, and then as personal secretary to the distinguished and wealthy noble Marquis de la Mole in Paris. Along the way, as a part of his attempt to climb the social ladder and overcome the disability of his low social class, JS seduces and then falls in love with the wife of M. de la Rênal, Louise (played by Danielle Darrieux), who is striken with guilt at what she has done. Nevertheless she continues to love JS and, out of jealousy and with the conivance of a priest, engineers JS's downfall. While with de la Mole, JS is seduced by his daughter, Mathilde (Antonella Lualdi), a young woman of some intellect and education who has read many of the radical and banned books (i.e. liberal, enlightened and revolutionary) in her father's library. JS uses her to assert his disdain for and desire to better the upper class and achieves his greatest victory when Mathilde grovels at his feet, calling him master and admitting she is his slave, thus reversing their true social relationship. M becomes pregnant and decides to renounce her social status and class by marrying JS. On the eve of their engagement/marriage JS is outfitting himself in a red soldier's uniform, about to celebrate his final victory when he learns that the jealous Louise de la Rênal has written to the Marquis informing him of their affair, thus ruining his chances of marriage. In revenge, though he still professes to love his previous lover, JS shoots Louise de la Rênal during a church service. Although Louise is not fatally injured, JS is arrested, tried and sentenced to death by guillotining at the hands of a court stacked with his social superiors who resent his youth, his education and his audacity to attempt to rise above his social station.

3. Themes of a Political and Social Nature in the Film

  • JS's speech to the court about the true reason for his execution - to be made an example of in order to discourage young men from the lower classes from rising above their station (p. 484 of Penguin edition of novel)
Here begins the last day of my life, thought Julien. Soon he felt himself inflamed by the idea of duty...
'Gentlemen of the Jury,' he said, 'a horror of contempt, which I thought I could defy at the hour of death, obliges me to speak. Gentlemen, I have not the honour to belong to the same class as yourselves, you see in me a peasant urged to revolt against the lowliness of his lot.
'I ask no mercy of you,' Julien went on, his voice growing stronger, 'I am under no illusion; death awaits me; the penalty will be just. I have been guilty of an attempt on the life of a woman most worthy of all respect, of all homage. My crime is atrocious, and it was premeditated. I have therefore, Gentlemen of the Jury, deserved death. But, even were I less guilty, I see before me men who, without pausing to consider what pity my youth may deserve, will wish to punish in my person and forever discourage that body of young men who, born in an inferior station, and in some degree oppressed by poverty, have the good fortune to secure for themselves a sound education, and the audacity to mingle with what the pride of rich men calls society.
'That is my crime, Gentlemen, and it will be punished with all the more severity in that, in point of fact, I am not being tried by my peers. In the jury-box I see not a single peasant who has grown rich, but simply and solely men of the middle-class enraged against me...'
For twenty minutes Julien went on speaking in this strain; he said everything that was in his heart. (p. 484)
  • the image of the red soldier's uniform: at the trial, the honour guard organised by M. de la Rênal to celebrate the royal visit, the young nobles in Paris, the presentation of "the Cross" (a medal) to JS by the Marquis, JS trying on uniform before his wedding (practising saluting before mirror)
  • the image of the black priest's robes: the Jesuits at the seminary, the young bishop conducting the royal service (practising the benediction before a mirror), JS's black suits provided by his employers, the black robes of the judges
  • the references to Napoleon, JS's idol/hero: his father throws JS's favourite book Mémorial de Saint-Hélène into the river (not in film but p. 37 of novel), the Imperial eagle on JS's uncle's trunk, the picture of Napoleon JS keeps in his room, references to Napoleon during ball
  • the relationship between people of different class/social staus: patron and protogé, priests and married women, master and servant (where to eat and sleep in household, provision of clothes); bishop and the king (even king bows down before bishop), husband and wife, higher status woman and her lower class lover (Mathilde's reversal of master/slave role), noble men lose face if duel with low class man (de Croisenois vs carpenter's son JS), gentry in jury vs JS at trial, negro in jail. Seduction of higher class women used by JS in his struggle against his masters.
  • the scene at the ball where Mathilde and JS talk with Count Altamira about politics and revolution. Count Altamira, wanted for execution by his monarch, is a Spanish liberal revolutionary in exile after the defeat of the revolution. Discusses with Julien the reasons for the success and failure of the French Revolution, they both admire Danton who, because of his low birth, would not be anybody in the Restoration, failure of liberal revolution in Spain because not ruthless enough.

4. References

Bloomsbury Foreign Film Guide, ed. Ronald Bergan and Robyn Karney (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 1988).

M.B. White, "Autant-Lara, Claude," in The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers: Directors/Filmmakers, ed. Christopher Lyon (London: Macmillan, 1987), pp. 29-31.