A Revised Translation of "the Eleventh Soiree"

[Created: 19 April, 2015]
[Updated: June 21, 2015]



Gustave de Molinari, Evenings on Saint Lazarus Street: Discussions on Economic Laws and the Defence of Property (1849)

The Eleventh Soirée (revised translation)


Gustave de Molinari, Les Soirées de la Rue Saint-Lazare; entretiens sur les lois économiques et defense de la propriété (Paris: Guillaumin, 1849), "Onzième Soirée," pp. 303-37.

This translation first appeared as an Appendix to a Thesis presented as part of an Honours Degree program in the Department of History at Macquarie University, Sydney in 1979: “Gustave de Molinari and the Anti-Étatiste Tradition”. It was subsequently published as “Gustave de Molinari and the Anti-statist Liberal Tradition” in three parts in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 5, nos. 3 and 4 and Vol. 6, no. 1 (1981-82).

The translation has been revised and additional footnotes added in April, 2015.



SUMMARY: On government and its function.2 Monopoly governments and communist governments--On the liberty of government.3 --On divine right.--That divine right is identical to the right to work.--Vices of monopoly government.--War is the inevitable consequence of this system. --On the sovereignty of the people. --How sovereignty is lost. --How it is recovered. —The Liberal solution. —The Communist solution. --Communist governments. --Their vices. --Centralization and decentralization. --On the administration of justice.--Its ancient organization. --Its present organization. --Deficiency of the jury system. --Advantages of free governments. --What is meant by nationality.

THE CONSERVATIVE: In your system of absolute property and full economic liberty, what is the function of government?

THE ECONOMIST: The function of government consists solely in assuring to each the preservation of his property.

THE SOCIALIST: Good, it is the "night watchman's state" of J. B. Say.4

Now, I have a question to put to you:

Today there are two kinds of governments in the world; one traces its origin back to a so-called divine right.

THE CONSERVATIVE: So-called! So-called! That is debatable!

THE SOCIALIST: The others arise from the sovereignty of the people. What do you prefer?

THE ECONOMIST: I wish neither one nor the other. The first are monopoly governments, the second are communist governments. I demand free governments in the name of the principle of property and in the name of the right that I possess to provide security myself or to buy it from whomever I please.

THE CONSERVATIVE: What do you mean?

THE ECONOMIST: I mean governments whose services I can accept or refuse according to my free will .

THE CONSERVATIVE: Are you serious?

THE ECONOMIST: You are going to see how serious. Isn't it true that you favor divine right?

THE CONSERVATIVE: I admit I am somewhat inclined to it since we have lived in a republic.

THE ECONOMIST: And so you consider yourself to be an adversary of the right to work?5

THE CONSERVATIVE: Do I consider myself one? I am certain of it. I swear...

THE ECONOMIST: Don't swear because you are an avowed supporter of the right to work.

THE CONSERVATIVE: Just one moment, I...

THE ECONOMIST: You are a supporter of divine right. Now the principle of divine right is absolutely identical to the principle of the right to work.

What is divine right? It is the right that certain families possess to govern the people. Who gives them this right? God himself. Just read the Considérations sur la France, and the pamphlet on the Principe générateur des Constitutions politiques of Joseph de Maistre.

"Man cannot make himself sovereign," says M. de Maistre. "At most he can serve as an instrument to dispossess a sovereign and to hand over his dominions to another sovereign who is already a prince. However, there has never existed a sovereign family to which one can assign a plebeian origin. If this phenomenon occurred, it would herald a new era. ". . . It is said that: It is I who make sovereigns. This is not a saying of the Church, a metaphor of the preacher; it is the literal truth, pure and simple. It is a law of the political world. God makes kings, literally. He prepared the royal lines, he fosters them behind a cloud which obscures their origin. They then appear crowned with glory and honor, they then take their seats.”6

This means that God has endowed certain families with the right to govern men, and that no one can deprive them of the exercise of this right.

Now, if you recognize certain families as having the exclusive right to exercise this particular kind of industry called government, and if, moreover, you believe, along with the majority of divine right theorists, that the people have to give themselves up, as they have for centuries, as subjects or as a source of income, like unemployment benefits paid to the members of these families, are you in any position to reject the right to work? Between the improper claim of compelling society to provide workers with work which suits them or with sufficient compensation, and this other improper claim of compelling society to provide the workers of the royal families either with work appropriate to their power and dignity, namely the work of governing, or with a minimum income, what is the difference?

THE SOCIALIST: In truth, there is none.

THE CONSERVATIVE: Doesn't it matter if the recognition of divine right is indispensable for the preservation of society?

THE ECONOMIST: Couldn't the socialists reply that the recognition of the right to work is no less necessary to the preservation of society? If you admit the right to work for some, shouldn't you admit it for all? Isn't the right to work nothing more than an extension of divine right?

You say that the recognition of divine right is indispensable for the preservation of society. Then why do the people want to rid themselves of divine right monarchies? Why is it that the old monopoly governments are the ones ruined, the others on the verge of being ruined?

THE CONSERVATIVE: The people are stricken with madness.

THE ECONOMIST: That's a very widespread madness! But believe me, the people have good reasons for ridding themselves of their old rulers. The monopoly of government is no better than any other. One does not govern well and, especially not cheaply, when one has no competition to fear, when the ruled are deprived of the right of freely choosing their rulers. Grant a grocer the exclusive right to supply a neighborhood, prevent the inhabitants of this neighborhood from buying any goods from other grocers in the vicinity, or even from supplying their own groceries, and you will see what detestable rubbish the privileged grocer will end up selling and at what prices! You will see how he will grow rich at the expense of the unfortunate consumers, what royal pomp he will display for the greater glory of the neighborhood. Well! What is true for the lowliest services is no less true for the loftiest. The monopoly of government is worth no more than that of a grocer's shop. The production of security7 inevitably becomes costly and bad when it is organized as a monopoly.

It is in the monopoly of security that lies the principal cause of wars which have laid waste humanity.


THE ECONOMIST: What is the tendency of all producers, privileged or not? It is to increase the number of their clients in order to increase their profit. Now, under a monopoly regime, what means can the producers of security use to increase their clientele?

The people are not considered under this regime and they form the legitimate domain of the Lord’s anointed ones.8 No one can invoke their will to acquire the right of governing them! The sovereigns are thus obliged to resort to the following processes to increase the number of their subjects : 1) to purchase kingdoms or provinces; 2) to marry heiresses who bring with them dominions as dowry or who are certain to inherit them later; 3) to conquer by force the domains of their neighbors. This is the first cause of war!

On the other hand, sometimes when the people revolt against their legitimate sovereigns, as recently happened in Italy and Hungary,9 the Lord’s anointed ones are forced to make these insubordinate cattle obey them once again. To achieve this end, they form a Holy Alliance10 and they inflict great carnage on their revolutionary subjects until they have pacified their rebellion. But if the rebels are in communication with other people, the latter join in the struggle and the conflagration becomes widespread. This is the second cause of war!

I have no need to add that the consumers of security, the object of the war, also pay the expenses.

Such are the advantages of monopoly governments.

THE SOCIALIST: So you prefer governments which spring from the sovereignty of the people. You place democratic republics above monarchies and aristocracies. Well done!

THE ECONOMIST: Let us make a distinction, I beg of you. I prefer governments which have arisen from the sovereignty of the people. But the republics that you call democratic are not in the least the true expression of the people's sovereignty. These governments are extended monopolies, forms of communism. Now, the sovereignty of the people is incompatible with monopoly and communism.

THE SOCIALIST: What then, in your eyes, is the sovereignty of the people?

THE ECONOMIST: It is the right that all men possess to freely dispose of their person and goods and to govern themselves.

If the sovereign individual11 has the right to dispose of his person and goods, he also naturally has the right to defend them. He possesses the right to free defense.12

But can each person exercise this right separately? Can each person be his own policeman and soldier?

No! No more than the same man can be his own laborer, his own barber, his own tailor, his own grocer, his own doctor, his own priest.

It is an economic law that man cannot profitably engage in several professions at the same time. Also one sees, from the beginning of societies, that all industries become specialized and different members of society turn to occupations suited to their natural aptitudes. They live by exchanging the products of their speciality for the many objects necessary for the satisfaction of their needs.

Isolated man indisputably enjoys all his sovereignty. Only this sovereign, being forced to engage by himself in all the industries which provide the necessities of his life, finds himself in quite a miserable condition.

When man lives in society, he can preserve his sovereignty or he can lose it.

How can he lose his sovereignty?

He loses it either totally or partially, directly or indirectly when he ceases to be able to dispose of his person and his goods.

Man remains completely sovereign only in a regime of full liberty. All monopoly, all privilege, is an attack on his sovereignty.

Under the ancien regime, where no one had the right to freely dispose of his person and goods, where no one had the right to freely engage in all industry, sovereignty is narrowly limited.

Under the present regime, the attack on the free activity of individuals by a multitude of monopolies, privileges and restrictions has not ceased. Man has not yet fully recovered his sovereignty.

How can he recover it?

Two schools of thought exist, which give completely opposite solutions to this problem: the liberal school and the communist school.

The liberal school says: Destroy monopolies and privilege, give man back his natural right to freely engage in all industry and he will fully enjoy his sovereignty .

The communist school says, on the contrary: Beware of giving each person the right of freely producing everything. This would be oppression and anarchy! Give the right to the community, to the exclusion of individuals. Everyone shall be united to organize all industry in common. The state shall be the sole producer and the sole distributor of wealth.

What is the basis of this doctrine? It is often said to be slavery, to be the absorption and annulment of the individual will in the general will, to be the destruction of individual sovereignty.

In the first rank of industries organized in common appear those which have as their object the production and defense of the property of persons and things from all aggression.

How are the communities which engage in this industry, the nation and the commune, organized?

The majority of nations have been successively put together by alliances of the owners of slaves or serfs and by their conquests. France, for example, is a product of alliances and conquests. By marriages, by force or fraud, the sovereigns of the Île de France successively extended their authority over the different parts of ancient Gaul. A single monopoly government succeeded twenty monopoly governments which occupied the present surface of France. The kings of Provence, the dukes of Aquitaine, Brittany, Burgundy, Lorraine, the counts of Flanders, etc., gave way to the king of France.

The king of France was entrusted with looking after the internal and external defense of the State. However, he did not manage defense or internal police alone.

Each feudal lord13 originally policed14 his domain; each commune, freed from the force or the money payments of the Seigneur's onerous tutelage, policed its recognized region.

Communes and Seigneurs contributed to the common defense to a certain degree.

One could say that the King of France had the monopoly of general defense and that the feudal lords and the bourgeoisie of the communes had that of local defense.

In certain communes, the police were under the direction of an administration elected by the city bourgeoisie, in the principal communes in Flanders, for example. Elsewhere, the police were formed into corporations like the bakers, butchers, cobblers, in other words, like all other industries.

In England, this latter form of the production of security continued until our time. In the city of London, the police were, until recently, in the hands of a privileged corporation. And strangely, this corporation refused to cooperate with police of other areas, so much so that the City had become a veritable refuge for criuminals. This anomaly disappeared only in the period of Robert Peel's reform.15

What did the French Revolution do? It divested the king of France of the monopoly of general defense, but it did not destroy this monopoly; it handed it back to the nation, organized hereafter as an immense commune.

The small communes, into which the territory of the ancient Kingdom of France was divided, continued to exist: The number even increased considerably. The government of the large commune had the monopoly of general defense, the government of the small communes exercised, under the surveillance of the central power, the monopoly of local defense.

But, it did not stop there. Other industries, notably education, religion, transportation, etc., were also organized by the general commune and by the individual communes, and many taxes were imposed on the citizens in order to cover the costs of those industries organized in common in this way.

Later, the socialists, poor observers if ever there were, did not notice that these industries which were organized by the general commune or by the individual communes, were operated more dearly and not as well as those industries left free. They demanded the organization in common of all branches of production. They wanted the general commune and the individual communes not to restrict themselves to providing police, building schools and roads, paying for religion, opening libraries, funding theaters, undertaking stud breeding, making tobacco, carpets, porcelain, etc., but to set about producing everything.

The good sense of the public revolted against this false utopia, but it did not go any further. It well understood that it would be ruinous to produce everything in common. It did not understand that it was also ruinous to produce certain things in common. So it continued to practice partial communism while spurning the socialists who loudly called for complete communism.

However, the conservatives, supporters of partial communism and adversaries of complete communism, are today divided on an important point.

Some wish that partial communism continue to be practiced in the general communes; they defend centralization.

The others demand, on the contrary, a larger share of powers for the small communes. They wish that the latter could engage in many industries, found schools, construct roads, build churches, fund theaters, etc., without needing the authorization of the central government. They demand decentralization.

Experience has shown the vices of centralization.16 Experience has proven that industries engaged in by the large communes, by the State, supply products which are more expensive and worse than those of free industry.

But is this to say that decentralization is better? Is it to say that it is more useful to emancipate the communes or, which comes to the same thing, to allow them to freely establish schools and welfare institutions, build theaters, subsidize religion, or even to freely engage in other industries?

What do the communes need in order to cover the costs of the services which they undertake? They need capital. Where can they get this capital? From the pockets of individuals, nowhere else. They are compelled, therefore, to levy different taxes on the inhabitants of the commune.

These taxes today generally consist in additional amounts added to the taxes paid to the State. However, certain communes have also obtained authorization to establish a small customs duty around their borders, under the name of town dues (octroi).17 This customs duty, which injures the majority of the remaining free industries, naturally considerably increases the resources of the commune. Also the authorizations to establish a town duty are often asked of the central government. The latter does not agree to them and, in doing that, it acts wisely; in return, it quite often allows the communes to impose extra-ordinary taxes, in other words, it allows the majority of commune administrators to establish an extra-ordinary tax that all who are governed are forced to pay.

Let the communes be emancipated, let the majority of inhabitants in each locality have the right to establish as many industries as it wishes and force the minority to contribute to the expenses of these industries which are organized in common, let the majority be authorized to freely establish all kinds of local taxes and you will very quickly see established in France as many different and separate States as there are communes. Successively, you will see spring up 44,000 [i.e., innumerable] internal customs under the name of town duties, in order to meet local taxes; you will see, when all is said and done, the reconstruction of the middle ages.

Under this regime, the freedom to work and free trade18 will be harmed by the monopolies that the communes will confer on certain branches of production and, by the taxes that they will levy on other branches, to support the industries carried on in common. The property of all will be at the mercy of the majorities.

In the communes where socialist opinion predominates, I ask you, what will become of property? The majority will not only levy taxes to cover the expenses of the police, public roads, religion, welfare institutions, schools, etc., but it will also levy them to establish communal workshops, communal shops, communal banks, etc. Will the non-socialist minority be forced to pay these local taxes?

Under such a regime, what then becomes of the sovereignty of the people? Doesn't it disappear under the tyranny of the greatest number?

More directly still than centralization, decentralization leads to complete communism, that is to say, to the complete destruction of sovereignty.

What then is necessary to restore this sovereignty that monopoly has stolen from mankind in the past; and that communism, this extended monopoly, threatens to take away from them in the future?

Quite simply, it is necessary to make free the different industries which have hitherto been monopolized, and presently exercised in common. It is necessary to leave to the free activity of individuals the industries which are still performed or regulated by the State or by the commune.

When man possesses the right to freely apply his talents in all kinds of work, as he did before the establishment of societies, without any fetter or tax, then he will again fully enjoy his sovereignty.

THE CONSERVATIVE: You have surveyed the different industries which are still monopolized, privileged or regulated, and you have proved to us, more or less successfully, that the industries ought to be left free for the common good. So be it ! I do not wish to return to an exhausted topic. But is it possible to take away from the State and the communes the responsibility of general and local defense?

THE SOCIALIST: And therefore the administration of justice?

THE CONSERVATIVE: Yes, and the administration of justice. Is it possible that these industries, to use your own word, could be supplied other than in common, by the nation and the commune?

THE ECONOMIST: I would perhaps make little of these two communisms if you would quite freely consent to give up all the others; if you would force the State to be from now on only a policeman, a soldier and a judge. However, no! . . . because the communism of security is the keystone of the old edifice of servitude. Besides, I see no reason to grant you this one rather than the others.

In fact, there are two choices:

Either communism is better than liberty and, in this case, all industries should be organized in common, by the State or by the commune.

Or liberty is preferable to communism and, in this case, all industry still organized in common should be made free, and indeed justice, police, as well as education, religion, transportation, the making of tobacco, etc.

THE SOCIALIST: That is logical.

THE CONSERVATIVE: But is it possible?

THE ECONOMIST: Let's see! What about justice? Under the ancien regime, the administration of justice was not organized and paid for in common, it was organized as a monopoly and paid for by those who made use of it.

For several centuries, there was no industry more independent. It formed a privileged corporation, like all the other branches of material or non-material production. The members of this corporation could bequeath their office or trade to their children or even sell it. Enjoying these offices in perpetuity, the judges became known for their independence and integrity.

Unfortunately, this regime had, on the other hand, all the vices inherent in monopoly. Monopolized justice is dearly paid for.

THE SOCIALIST: And God knows how many complaints and objections the “spices” (or bribes) stirred up.19 Witness these small verses which were scrawled on the door of the Palais de Justice after a fire:

One fine day Lady Justice

put the Palais completely to the flames

for having eaten too many spices.20

Shouldn't justice be essentially free? Now, wouldn't that lead to organization in common?

THE ECONOMIST: They complained that justice ate too many spices. They did not complain that it had to eat. If justice had not been monopolized; if consequently, the judges had been able to demand only the legitimate remuneration of their industry, they would not have complained of the judges' fees.

In certain countries, where those under the jurisdiction of a court had the right to choose their judges, the vices of monopoly were particularly weakened. Competition, which was then established among the different courts, improved justice and made it cheaper. Adam Smith attributes the progress in the administration of justice in England to this cause. The passage is rather interesting and I hope that it will remove your doubts:

The fees of court seem originally to have been the principal support of the different courts of justice in England. Each court endeavoured to draw to itself as much business as it could, and was, upon that account, willing to take cognizance of many suits which were not originally intended to fall under its jurisdiction. The court of king’s bench, instituted for the trial of criminal causes only, took cognizance of civil suits; the plaintiff pretending that the defendant, in not doing him justice, had been guilty of some trespass or misdemeanor. The court of exchequer, instituted for the levying of the king’s revenue, and for enforcing the payment of such debts only as were due to the king, took cognizance of all other contract debts; the plaintiff alleging that he could not pay the king, because the defendant would not pay him. In consequence of such fictions it came, in many cases, to depend altogether upon the parties before what court they would chuse to have their cause tried; and each court endeavoured, by superior dispatch and impartiality, to draw to itself as many causes as it could. The present admirable constitution of the courts of justice in England was, perhaps, originally in a great measure, formed by this emulation, which antiently took place between their respective judges; each judge endeavouring to give, in his own court, the speediest and most effectual remedy, which the law would admit, for every sort of injustice. Originally the courts of law gave damages only for breach of contract. The court of chancery, as a court of conscience, first took upon it to enforce the specifick performance of agreements. When the breach of contract consisted in the non–payment of money, the damage sustained could be compensated in no other way than by ordering payment, which was equivalent to a specifick performance of the agreement. In such cases, therefore, the remedy of the courts of law was sufficient. It was not so in others. When the tenant sued his lord for having unjustly outed him of his lease, the damages which he recovered were by no means equivalent to the possession of the land. Such causes, therefore, for some time, went all to the court of chancery, to the no small loss of the courts of law. It was to draw back such causes to themselves that the courts of law are said to have invented the artificial and fictitious writ of ejectment, the most effectual remedy for an unjust outer or dispossession of land. 21

THE SOCIALIST: But, once again, isn’t justice which is free of charge preferable?

THE ECONOMIST: Don't tell me that you have returned again to the illusion of free justice. Do I have to prove to you that free justice is more expensive than the other kind of justice, in order to subsidize the free courts and pay the salaries of the free judges out of the sum total of taxes levied? Do I need to show you again that free justice is necessarily iniquitous, because everybody does not equally make use of justice, everyone does not equally have a litigious spirit? As for the rest, justice is far from being free under the present regime, don't forget.

THE CONSERVATIVE: Law suits are ruinous. However, can we complain of the present administration of justice? Isn't the organization of our courts irreproachable?

THE SOCIALIST: What! Irreproachable? An Englishman whom I accompanied one day to the Assize Court (a jury court), left the hearing quite indignant. He could not conceive how a civilized people could permit an agent of the king or of the republic indulge in rhetoric while giving a death sentence. This eloquence, being offered up to the hangman, horrified him. In England, one is satisfied to state the prosecution’s case; one does not inflame it with rhetoric.

THE ECONOMIST: Add to that the proverbial slowness of our courts of justice, the suffering of the unfortunates who await their judgment for months and sometimes for years while the preliminary proceedings could be completed in a few days; the costs and enormous delays cause, and you will be convinced that the administration of justice has not progressed at all in France.

THE SOCIALIST: However, let us not exaggerate anything. Today, thank God, we possess the jury system.22

THE ECONOMIST: Indeed, we are not satisfied in forcing taxpayers to pay the costs of justice, we also force them to perform the functions of judges. This is pure communism: ab uno disce omnes.23 As far as I am concerned, I don't think that the jury is better at judging than the national guard (another communist system!)24 in order to make war.


THE ECONOMIST: Because one can do well only one's profession, one's specialty, and the profession, the specialty of a jury, is not that of a judge.

THE CONSERVATIVE: Also it merely has to state the offense and to assess the circumstances in which the offense was committed.

THE ECONOMIST: That is to perform the most difficult, the most troublesome function of the judge. It is this very delicate function that requires a judgment so sound, so trained, a spirit so calm, so cool, so impartial, that is left to the hazards of the lottery. It is just as if one drew lots for the names of the citizens who would be entrusted each year, to make boots or to write tragedies for the community.

THE CONSERVATIVE: The comparison is forced.

THE ECONOMIST: It is more difficult, in my opinion, to make a good judgment than to make a good pair of boots or to properly write a few hundred lines of rhyming couplets. A perfectly judicious and impartial judge is rarer than a clever cobbler or a poet capable of writing for the Théâtre-Français.

In criminal trials, the unfitness of the jury is shown up every day. But one, alas, only gives indifferent attention to the errors committed in the jury courts. What can I say? One almost regards it as an offense to criticize a judgment which has been delivered. In political trials, isn't the jury accustomed to pronouncing according to the color of its opinion, white (conservative) or red (radical), rather than according to justice? Any man who is condemned by a white jury wouldn't he be absolved by a red jury, and vice versa?


THE ECONOMIST: Already minorities are very tired of being judged by juries belonging to the majority. You can guess what happens...

What about the industry which provides internal and external defense? Do you think that it would be much better than that of justice? Don't our police and especially our army cost us very dearly for the actual service they give us?25

Finally, is there any disadvantage to this public defense industry being in the hands of a majority?

Let us examine it.

In a system where the majority establishes the assessment of taxes and directs the use of public funds, mustn't the tax weigh more or less heavily on certain sections of society, according to the predominant influences? Under monarchy, when the majority was purely imaginary, when the upper class assumed the right of governing the country to the exclusion of the rest of the nation,26 didn't the tax weigh principally on the consumption of the lower classes, on salt, wines, meat, etc.?27 Without doubt, the bourgeoisie paid its share of taxes, but the sphere of its consumption being infinitely larger than that of the lower class, much less of its revenue was seized. As the lower class becomes aware of this, it will acquire more influence in the State and you will see an opposite tendency produced. You will see progressive taxes, which are today turned against the lower class, turned against the upper class. The latter will without doubt resist this new tendency with all its might; it will cry out against plunder and theft; but if the communal institution of universal suffrage is maintained, if the vicissitudes of violence do not return, once again, the government of society into the hands of the rich classes to the exclusion of the poor classes, the will of the majority will prevail and progressive taxes will be established. A part of the property of the rich will then be confiscated to lighten the burden of the poor, just as a part of the property of the poor has, for a long time, been confiscated to lighten the burden of the rich.

But there is still worse to come.

Not only can the majority of a communal government establish, as it wishes, the assessment of taxes, but it can, in addition, put this tax to whatever use it judges suitable, without taking the will of the minority into account.

In certain countries, the government of the majority uses part of public funds to protect property which is essentially illegitimate and immoral. In the United States, for example, the government guarantees Southern planters their property in slaves. However, there are, in the United States, abolitionists who rightly consider slavery as theft. No matter! the communal mechanism forces them to contribute their money to the maintenance of this kind of theft. If one day the slaves attempt to free themselves from this iniquitous yoke, the abolitionists will be forced to go to protect the property of the planters, arms in hand. This is the law of majorities!

Elsewhere, it happens that the majority, driven by political intrigues or by religious fanaticism, declares war on a foreign people. Although the minority is horrified at this war and curses it, it is forced to contribute its own blood and money. Again, this is the law of the majorities!

So what happens? The majority and the minority are perpetually at war and that war sometimes descends from the parliamentary arena into the street.

Today, it is the red minority which is rising up in rebellion. If this minority becomes the majority, and if, by using its rights as a majority, it altered the constitution as it saw fit, if it decreed progressive taxes, compulsory loans, and paper money, what assurance do you have that the white minority would not rise up in rebellion tomorrow?

There is no lasting security in this system. And do you know why? Because it threatens property directly; because it puts at the mercy of a minority, blind or enlightened, moral or immoral, the person and goods of everyone.

If the communal regime, instead of being adapted to a multitude of aims, as in France, was narrowly restricted as in the United States, the causes for dissent being less numerous, the disadvantages of this system would be less. However, they would not disappear entirely. In certain circumstances, the acknowledged right of the greatest number to tyrannize the will of the smallest number would still generate a civil war.

THE CONSERVATIVE: But, once again, it is inconceivable how the industry that provides the security of person and property could be organized if it were made free. Your logic leads you to dreams worthy of Charenton.28

THE ECONOMIST: Let's see! don't get angry. I suppose that after having just found out that the partial communism of the State and commune is completely wrong, you would leave free all branches of production except for justice and public defense. So far, there is no objection. But a radical economist, a dreamer,29 comes and says: Why then, after having freed the different uses of property, won't you also free that which insures the preservation of property? Won't these industries, like the others, be exercised more equitably and more usefully if they are made free? You claim that this is impracticable. Why? On the one hand, aren't there, in the heart of society, men who are specially qualified to judge the disputes which arise among property owners, and to assess the crimes against property, and others who can defend the property of persons and things from the aggression of violence and fraud? Aren't there men whose natural aptitudes make them specially suited to be judges, policemen, and soldiers? On the other hand, don't all property owners without exception have need of security and justice? Aren't they all prepared, therefore, to impose sacrifices on themselves in order to satisfy this urgent need, especially if they are unable to satisfy it themselves or if they can't do it without a greater expenditure of time and money?

Now, if there are, on the one hand, men able to provide a need of society, and on the other hand, men prepared to suffer sacrifices in order to satisfy this need, isn't it enough to leave both of them free to go about their business30 so that the goods demanded, material or non-material, are produced and that the need is satisfied?

Doesn't this economic phenomenon happen irresistibly, inevitably, like the physical phenomenon of falling bodies?

Am I then not justified in saying that, if a society gives up the provision of public security, then this particular industry would nevertheless be provided? Am I not justified in adding that it would be better under the regime of liberty that it was under the regime of the community?


THE ECONOMIST: That is of no concern to economists. Political economy can say: if such a need exists, it will be satisfied, and it will be better under a regime of total liberty than under all others. This rule has no exception! but how this industry will be organized, is a technical matter about which political economy cannot speak.

Thus I can maintain that if the need to be fed is manifest in the heart of society, this need will be satisfied, and that the freer each person is to produce food or buy it from whomever he wishes, the better it will be.

I maintain further that things would happen in exactly the same way if, instead of food, it was a matter of security.

Therefore, I claim that if a community gave notice that after a certain interval, a year for example, it would cease the payment of judges, soldiers and policemen, at the end of the year this community would not have fewer courts and governments ready to function. And I add that if, under this new regime, each person retained the right to freely engage in these two industries and to freely buy these services, security would be produced most economically and would be the best possible.

THE CONSERVATIVE: I still reply that it is inconceivable.

THE ECONOMIST: In the period when the regulatory regime held industry prisoner in the confines of the communes, and when each corporation was the exclusive ruler of the communal market, it was said that society was threatened each time an audacious innovator tried to challenge this monopoly. If someone had come and said then that instead of the weak and wretched industries of the corporations, liberty would one day set up immense factories supplying products less dearly and more perfectly, this dreamer would have been treated in la belle manière. The conservatives of the time would have sworn by the gods that this was inconceivable.

THE SOCIALIST: But let's see! How can one imagine that each individual has the right to govern himself or to choose his government, or even to not choose it.... What would happen in France if, after having made all other industries free, French citizens announced with one voice that they would cease supporting the government of the community at the end of a year?

THE ECONOMIST: In this respect, I can only conjecture. However, this is pretty nearly how things would happen. Since the need for security is still very strong in our society, it would be profitable to found government enterprises.31 One would be assured of covering costs. How would these enterprises be founded? Separate individuals would not be able to do it any more than they can construct railroads, docks, etc. Vast companies would thus be established to produce security; they would procure the material and the workers that they would need.32 As soon as they were ready to function, these property insurance companies33 would call for clients. Each person would contract with the company which inspired in him the greatest confidence and whose conditions appeared the most favorable.

THE CONSERVATIVE: We would line up to subscribe. We would surely line up!

THE ECONOMIST: Since this industry is free, one would see established as many companies as could be usefully formed. If there were too few, if, consequently, the price of security was raised, it would be profitable to form new ones; if there were too many, the superfluous companies would soon be dissolved. In this way, the price of security would always be reduced to the level of the costs of production.

THE CONSERVATIVE: How would these free companies cooperate to provide general security?

THE ECONOMIST: They would cooperate just as the monopoly and communist governments cooperate today, because it would be in their interest to cooperate. Indeed, the more they established shared procedures for the capture of thieves and murders, the more they would lower their costs.

By the very nature of their industry, the property insurance companies would not be able to overstep certain limits: they would make a loss supplying police in places where they would only have a small clientele. Nevertheless, within their limits they could neither oppress nor exploit their clients, on pain of seeing competitors instantly spring up.

THE SOCIALIST: And if the existing company wanted to prevent competition from being established?

THE ECONOMIST: In short, if it attacked the property of its competitors and the sovereignty of everyone … Well then, all those whose property and independence would be threatened by the monopolists, would rise up and punish them.

THE SOCIALIST: And if all the companies cooperated in establishing monopolies. If they formed a holy alliance to force themselves upon the people, and so strengthened by this coalition, they exploited the unfortunate consumers of security without mercy, if, by heavy taxes, they took for themselves the better part of the fruits of the people's labor?

THE ECONOMIST: If, when all is said and done, they began to do what the old aristocracies have done until the present ... well then, the people would follow the advice of Béranger: "People, form a Holy Alliance and help each other."34 This time, they would be united, and since they have the means of communication that their ancestors did not have, and since they are a hundred times more numerous than their old rulers, the holy alliance of the aristocracies would soon be destroyed. I swear that no one would be tempted to establish a monopoly any longer.

THE CONSERVATIVE: Under this regime, how would a foreign invasion be repelled?

THE ECONOMIST:35 What would the companies' interest be? It would be to drive back the invaders because they would be the first victims of any invasion. They would therefore cooperate in repelling them and would ask their clients for a supplementary premium to protect them from this new danger. If those insured preferred to run the risks of invasion, they would refuse to pay this supplementary premium; otherwise they would pay it, and thus they would enable the companies to ward off the danger of the invasion.

But just as war is inevitable under a regime of monopoly, peace is inevitable under a regime of free government.

Under this regime, governments can win nothing by war; they can, on the contrary, lose everything. What interest would they have in undertaking a war? Would it be to increase the number of their clientele? But since the consumers of security are free to govern themselves as they wish, they would escape from the conquerors. If the latter wanted to impose their rule on them, after having destroyed the existing government, the oppressed would immediately call for the help of all people ...

The wars of company against company, moreover, would occur only as long as the shareholders wished to advance the costs. As war is now no longer able to bring anyone an increase in clientele since the consumers would no longer allow themselves to be conquered, the costs of war would obviously no longer be covered. Then who would want to lend them money?

I conclude from this that war would be physically impossible under this regime because no war can be waged without funds being loaned to finance it.

THE CONSERVATIVE: What conditions would a property insurance company impose on its clients?

THE ECONOMIST: These conditions would be of several kinds. In order to be in a position to guarantee full security of person and property to those insured, it would be necessary:36

1.That the insurance companies establish certain penalties against offenders of person and property; that those insured agree to submit to these penalties in the event that they themselves commit crimes against person or property.

2.That they impose on those insured certain restrictions with the aim of facilitating the detection of the perpetrators of the crime.

3.That, in order to cover their costs, they regularly charge a certain premium which will vary according to the situation of those insured, their particular occupation, the extent, nature and value of the property to be protected.

If these stipulated conditions were agreeable to the consumers of security, the contract would be concluded; otherwise the consumers would turn to other companies or provide their own security.

Follow this hypothesis in all its details and you will be convinced, I think, of the possibility of transforming monopoly or communist governments into free governments .

THE CONSERVATIVE: I still see a great many difficulties. Who would pay the debt?37

THE ECONOMIST: Don't you think that by selling all property which is today held in common, roads, canals, rivers, forests, buildings used by all the commune administrations, equipment from all the public services, we could easily manage to repay the capital of the debt? This capital does not exceed six billion. The value of common property in France surely is much more than that.

THE SOCIALIST: Wouldn't this system mean the destruction of all nationality? If several property insurance companies were established in a country, wouldn't National Unity be destroyed?

THE ECONOMIST: In the first place, National Unity would have to exist before it could be destroyed. Now, I cannot see national unity in these shapeless agglomerations of people that violence has shaped and that most frequently violence alone maintains.

It is wrong then to confuse these two things which are naturally quite distinct: the nation and the government. A nation is one when the individuals which comprise it have the same mores, the same language, the same civilization; when they form a distinct and original variety of the human race. Whether this nation has two governments or whether it has only one does not matter very much, unless each government surrounds the areas under its domination with an artificial barrier and engages in incessant hostilities with its neighbors. In this latter eventuality, the instinct of nationality will react against this barbaric dismembering and this artificial antagonism imposed on the same people, and the disunited parts of this people will be immediately drawn back together.

Until the present time, governments have divided the people in order to more easily keep them obedient; divide in order to rule, this has been the fundamental maxim of their policy in all ages. Men of the same race, to whom a common language gives an easy means of communication, have energetically reacted against the practice of this maxim; in all ages, they have tried to destroy the artificial barriers which separate them. Finally, when they have succeeded, they have wanted a single government so that they will not be disunited again. But note well that they have never asked this government to separate them from other people. ... The instinct of nationalities is thus not selfish, as has so often been claimed; on the contrary, it is essentially sympathetic. If the diversity of governments stops causing the separation, the dismembering of peoples, you will see the same nationality willingly accept several of them. A single government is no more necessary to establish the unity of a people than a single bank, a single educational institution, a single religion, a single grocer's store, etc.

THE SOCIALIST: Truly, that is quite a strange solution to the problem of government.

THE ECONOMIST: It is the only solution which conforms to the nature of things.


1 Gustave de Molinari, Les Soirées de la Rue Saint-Lazare; entretiens sur les lois économiques et defense de la propriété (Paris: Guillaumin, 1849), "Onzième Soirée," pp. 303-37.

2 (Note by Molinari: For a long time economists have refused to deal not only with government but with all purely non-material functions. J. B. Say was the first to introduce these kinds of services into the domain of political economy, giving them the general name of “non-material goods." By doing this, he has rendered a greater service to science than is generally recognized. "The industry of a doctor," he says, "and, if one wishes to multiply examples, of an administrator of the Commonwealth, of a lawyer, of a judge, which are of the same kind, satisfy needs so necessary that without their labor no society could exist. Isn't the fruit of their labors real? They are so real that they are procured for the price of another material good and, by these repeated exchanges, the producers of non-material goods acquire wealth. Thus the Comte de Verri is wrong in claiming that the employment of Princes, magistrates, soldiers, priests, does not immediately fall into the group of objects with which political economy is concerned" (J. B. Say, Traité d'économie politique, bk. 1, chap.8.) [Emphasis added]

3 This is the only place in the book where Molinari uses the phrase “la liberté de gouvernement” (the liberty of government) by which he means the private, competitive provision of security. Molinari first presented his ideas on this topic in an article he wrote for the Journal des Économistes in February 1849, “De la production de la sécurité”; then in this chapter of Les Soirées written over the summer of 1849; and again in his economic treatise Cours d'économie politique (1855). After a hiatus of 30 years he returned to the subject in L’Évolution politique (1884) where there is an entire section devoted to the idea in “Chap. X. Les gouvernements de l’avenir.” See, “De la production de la sécurité,” in JDE, Vol. XXII, no. 95, 15 February, 1849, pp. 277-90; Cours d'économie politique, professé au Musée royal de l'industrie belge (Bruxelles: Librairie polytechnique d'Aug. Decq, 1855), vol. 2, Douzième leçon, “Les consommations publiques,” pp. 480-534;L'évolution politique et la Révolution (Paris: C. Reinwald, 1884), Chap. X. Les gouvernements de l’avenir.”

4 The expression used is “l’État-gendarme” or the “nightwatchman state.” Say provides the most detailed discussion of his views on the proper function of government in the Cours complet (1828), vol. 2, part VII, chaps XIV to XXXII. He essentially follows Adam Smith’s plan that there are only 3 proper duties of a government: to provide national defence, internal police, and some public goods such as roads and bridges. However, there is some evidence from an unpublished Traité de Politique pratique (written 1803-1815) and lectures he gave at the Athénée in Paris in 1819 that suggest that his anti-statism went much further than this and that he did toy with the idea of the competitive, non-government provision of police services along the lines developed at more length here by Molinari. See, Say, Jean-Baptise, Cours complet d'économie politique pratique; ouvrage destiné à mettre sous les yeux des hommes d'état, des propriétaires fonciers et les capitalistes, des savans, des agriculteurs, des manufacturiers, des négocians, et en général de tous les citoyens, l'économie des sociétés (Paris: Rapilly, 1828-9), 6 vols.

5 Molinari uses the socialist expression “la liberté au travail” (right to a job) in order to provoke the Conservative. Socialists unsuccessfully attempted to have a clause guaranteeing the right to a government-funded job in the new constitution of the Republic which was under discussion during the summer of 1848.

6 (Note by Molinari: Joseph de Maistre, Du principe générateur des constitutions politiques, Preface.) See, Maistre, Considérations sur la France (Considerations on France) (1796) and Principe générateur des Constitutions politiques (Essay on the Generating Principle of Political Constitutions) (1809). See Oeuvres du comte J. de Maistre. Publiées par M. l’abbé Migne (J.-P. Migne, 1841).

7 Molinari uses here the phrase “la production de la sécurité” (the production of security) which is title of the provocative essay on this topic which he published in the Journal des Économistes in February 1849, sparking an extended controversy among the members of the Société d’Economie Politique. See, Gustave de Molinari, “De la production de la sécurité,” in JDE, Vol. XXII, no. 95, 15 February, 1849, pp. 277-90.

8 Molinari uses the phrase “les oints du Seigneur” which we have translated as “the Lord’s anointed ones.”

9 The revolutions which broke across Europe in 1848 began with an uprising in Sicily in January 1848, spread to Paris in February, and then the southern and western German states, Vienna and Budapest in March. As a result of political divisions among the revolutionaries the forces of counter-revolution led by Field Marshall Radetzky of Austria, with the assistance of the Russian army, were able to crush the uprisings in central and eastern Europe during 1849. In France the Revolution led to the formation of the Second Republic and eventually the coming to power of Louis Napoleon and the Second Empire in 1852. The number of people killed during the uprisings and their suppression are hard to estimate but they are in the order of many thousands.

10 The Holy Alliance was a coalition between Russia, Austria, and Prussia organized by Tsar Alexander I of Russia during the meeting of the Congress of Vienna following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. The purpose was to defend the principles of monarchical government, aristocracy, and the Catholic Church against the forces of liberalism, democracy, and secular enlightenment which had been unleashed by the French Enlightenment and Revolution. See the note below which describes Molinari’s interest in the poet Béranger’s poem about the need for the people to form their own Holy Alliance, “The Holy Alliance of the People” (1818).

11 Molinari uses the expression “l’homme souverain” (sovereign man).

12 Molinari uses the phrase "Il possède le droit de libre défense” (he possesses the right to (freely) defend himself.)

13 Molinari uses two different expressions, “seigneur châtelain” and “seigneur” which we have translated as “feudal lord” and “Seigneur” respectively.

14 Molinari uses the word “la police” which had a complex meaning in the ancien regime. On the one hand, it meant more narrowly the protection of life and property of the inhabitants from attack, in other words what we would understand as modern police and defence activities. On the other hand, it also had a much broader meaning concerning the entire “civil administration” of the commune, such as ensuring the provision of public goods like lighting and water, the enforcement of censorship of dissenting political and religious views, the control of public gatherings to prevent protests getting out of hand, the collection of taxes and the supervision of compulsory labour; in other words, the complex mechanism of public control which had evolved during the ancien regime. Since Molinari is talking about security matters in this chapter we have chosen to use the word “police” or “policing” in this context.

15 (Note by Molinari: Léon Faucher, Études sur l’Angleterre.) See, Léon Faucher, Études sur l'Angleterre (Paris: Guillaumin, 1845, 2nd ed. 1856), 2 vols. The anecdote Molinari refers to can be found in vol. 1, p. 47. Faucher relates how one rundown district in London known as “Little Ireland” had become off limits to the police. Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) was Prime Minister of Britain twice (1834-35 and 1841-46) and during his second stint he successfully repealed the protectionist Corn Laws in 1846. When he was Home Secretary (1822-29) he reformed the police force of London by creating the Metropolitan Police Force in 1829 which became the model for all modern urban police forces.

16 The Economists condemned the bureaucratic or administrative centralisation which had made France the most centralised state in the world, as Coquelin phrased it: “In no other time nor in any other country has the system of centralisation been as rigorously established as that which exists today in France” (p. 291). The French State exercised a monopoly in dozens of industries, it claimed title to all mineral resources under the surface of the land, and it exercised the right to inspect and license nearly all businesses. In addition to these interventions in economic activity the central state also regulated and supervise to a large extent the activities of the administrative bodies at the local level, such as provinces, départements, and communes, which may have once exercised some autonomy, but which now were subject to stifling regulation and “the perpetual tutelage of the State” (DuPuynode, p. 417). For many of the Economists the ideal was the political decentralisation described by Tocqueville in America which Coquelin regarded as “the most most decentralised country in the world” (p. 300). Dunoyer went so far as to advocate the radical break up of the centralised bureaucratic state into much smaller jurisdictions, or what he called “the municipalisation of the world” (p. 366). See Charles Coquelin, “Centralisation” in Dictionnaire de l’économie politique, vol. 1, pp. 291-301; Gustave Dupuynode, “De la centralisation,” JDE, 15 July 1848, T. 20, pp. 409-18 and JDE, 1 August 1848, T. 21, pp. 16-24; Charles Dunoyer, L'Industrie et la Morale considérées dans leurs rapports avec la liberté (Paris: A. Sautelet, 1825), p. 366. Dictionnaire de l’économie politique, contenant l’exposition des principes de la science, l’opinion des écrivains qui ont le plus contribué à sa fondation et à ses progrès, la bibliographie générale de l’économie politique par noms d’auteurs et par ordre de matières, avec des notices biographiques et une appréciation raisonnée des principaux ouvrages, publié sur la direction de MM Charles Coquelin et Guillaumin. (Paris: Librairie de Guillaumin et Cie., 1852–53). 2 vols.

17 The "octroi" or the tax on goods brought into a town or city was imposed on consumer goods such as wine, beer, food (except for flour, fruit, milk), firewood, animal fodder, and construction materials. All of these products had to pass through tollgates which had been built on the outskirts of the town or city where they could be inspected and taxed. In 1841 it was estimated that 1,420 communes throughout France imposed the octroi tax upon entry into their cities and towns, raising some fr. 75 million in revenue. The money was used to pay for the maintenance of roads, drains, lighting, and other public infrastructure. See, Horace Say, Paris, son octroi et ses emprunts (Paris: Guillaumin, 1847).

18 Molinari uses the expression “la liberté du travail” (the liberty to engage in work) and “la liberté des échanges” (free trade).

19 Molinri uses the word “éspices” (spices) which means both "spices" and the slang word for bribes paid to government officials.

20 The Palais de Justice (Law Courts) of Paris was burned to the ground in 1618. The satirical and libertine poet Marc-Antoine Girard de Saint-Amant (1594-1661) wrote this verse to suggest that it might have been in revenge by Lady Justice for the corruption that went on within the building. See, Oeuvres complètes de Saint-Amant. Nouvelle édition. Publiée sur les manuscrits inédits et les éditions anciennes. Précédée d’un Notice et accompagnée de notes par M. Ch.-L. Livet (Paris: P. Janet, 1855), vol. 1, “Epigramme” , p. 185.

21 Molinari provides a truncated version of this passage from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Instead of translating it, we have provided the original version here. Adam Smith, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Vol. I and II, ed. R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner, vol. II of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981). Chapter: [V.i.b] part ii: Of the Expence of Justice.

22 Molinari uses the English word “jury.”

23 This maxim from Vergil’s Aeneid, Book II, line 65, means “From one thing, learn about everything.”

24 The National Guard was founded in 1789 as a national armed citizens' militia in Paris and soon spread to other cities and towns in France. Its function was to maintain local order, protect private property, and defend the principles of the Revolution. The Guard consisted of 16 legions of 60,000 men and was under command of the Marquis de Lafayette. It was a volunteer organization and members had to satisfy a minimum tax-paying requirement and had to purchase their own uniform and equipment. They were not paid for service, thus limiting its membership to the more prosperous members of the community. The Guard was closed down in 1827 for its opposition to King Charles X but was reconstituted after the 1830 Revolution and played an important role during the July Monarchy in support of the constitutional monarchy. Membership was expanded or “democratized” in a reform of 1837 and opened to all males in 1848 tripling its size to about 190,000. Since many members of the Guard supported the revolutionaries in June 1848 they refused to join the army in suppressing the rioting. This is what Molinari is probably referring to in his comment that it had become “communist” . The Guard gradually began to lose what cohesion it had and further reforms in 1851 and 1852 forced it to abandon its practice of electing its officers and to give up much of its autonomy. Because of its active participation in the 1871 Paris Commune many of its members were massacred in the post-revolutionary reprisals and it was closed down in August 1871. [See the history of the National Garde by Charles Comte, Histoire complète de la Garde national, depuis l'époque de sa foundation jusqu'à sa réorganisation définitive et la nomination de see officers, en vertu de la loi du 22 mars 1831, divisée en six époques; les cinqs prière par Charles Comte; et la sixième par Horace Raisson (Paris: Philippe, Juillet 1831).]

25 According to the budget for 1848 the Ministry of War spent a total of fr. 305.6 million out of total expenditure of fr. 1.45 billion (or 21.1%). The government spent a total of fr. 156.9 million in administrative and collection costs, the share of the Ministry of War was therefore fr. 33.1 million, which is 10.8% of the cost of providing defense. See “Budget de 1848” in AEPS pour 1848 (Paris: Guillaumin, 1848), pp. 29-51.

26 Frédéric Bastiat calls the very limited number of individuals who were allowed to vote during the July Monarchy the “classe électorale.” Suffrage was limited to those who paid an annual tax of fr. 200 and were over the age of 25; and only those who paid fr. 500 in tax and were over the age of 30 could stand for election. The taxes which determined eligibility were direct taxes on land, poll taxes, and the taxes on residence, doors, windows, and businesses. By the end of the Restoration (1830) only 89,000 tax payers were eligible to vote. Under the July Monarchy this number rose to 166,000 and by 1846 this had risen again to 241,000. The February Revolution of 1848 introduced universal manhood suffrage (21 years or older) and the Constituent Assembly (April 1848) had 900 members (minimum age of 25). Furthermore, the “Law of the Double Vote” was introduced on 29 June 1820 to benefit the ultra-monarchists who were under threat after the assassination of the Duke de Berry in February 1820. The law was designed to give the wealthiest voters two votes so they could dominate the Chamber of Deputies with their supporters. Between 1820 and 1848, 258 deputies were elected by a small group of individuals who qualified to vote because they paid more than 2-300 francs in direct taxes (this figure varied over time from 90,000 to 240,000). One quarter of the electors, those who paid the largest amount of taxes, elected another 172 deputies. Therefore, those wealthier electors enjoyed the privilege of a double vote.

27 According to the budget for 1848 the government raised fr. 202.1 million from customs and salt taxes, as well as another fr. 204.4 million in indirect taxes on drink, sugar, tobacco, and other items, making a total of fr. 406.5 million. Total receipts from taxes and other charges was fr. 1.39 billion. The share of indirect taxes was thus 29.2% of the the total. See “Budget de 1848” in AEPS pour 1848 (Paris: Guillaumin, 1848), pp. 29-51.

28 French equivalent of "bedlam," a mad house. The “Maison royal de Charenton” , also known as the “Hôpital Esquirol” , was a psychiatric hospital which was founded in 1641. One of its most famous inmates was the Marquis de Sade in the late 18th century. The Hospital was the subject of a major study, “Rapport statistique sur la maison royale de Charenton”, in 1829.

29 Molinari is hinting here that he is “Le Rêveur” (the Dreamer), the radical liberal, who wrote but did not sign the essay “L’Utopie de la liberté. Lettres aux socialistes” in the JDE, 15 June, 1848, vol. XX, pp. 328-32. This is an appeal written just prior to the June Days insurrection of 1848 for liberals and socialists to admit that they shared the common goals of prosperity and justice but differed on the correct way to achieve these goals. Molinari reveals that he was in fact the author in an appendix he included with Esquisse de l'organisation politique et économique de la société future (Paris: Guillaumin, 1899), p. 237, written 50 years later.

30 Molinari uses the phrase “laissez faire” here: “de laissez faire les uns et les autres.”

31 Molinari uses the phrase “des entreprises de gouvernement” (businesses which provide government services).

32 In his article on “The Production of Security” published a few months earlier in February 1849 Molinari talks about “producers of security” and “entrepreneurs in the security industry” but he does not use the word entrepeneur in the “11th Soirée” for some reason.

33 Molinari calls them “compagnies d’assurances sur la propriété” (property insurance companies).

34 Pierre-Jean de Béranger (1780-1857) was a poet and songwriter who rose to prominence during the Restoration period with his funny and clever criticisms of the monarchy and the church, which got him into trouble with the censors who imprisoned him for brief periods in the 1820s. The quotation is the refrain in Béranger’s anti-monarchical and pro-French poem, “La sainte Alliance des peuples” (The Holy Alliance of the People) (1818) in Oeuvres complètes de P.J. de Béranger contenant les dix chanson nouvelles, avec un Portrait gravé sur bois d’après Charlet (Paris: Perrotin, 1855), vol. 1, pp. 294-96. For a translation see, Béranger’s Songs of the Empire, the Peace, and the Restoration. Translated into English verse by Robert B. Clough (London: Addey and Co., 1856), pp. 59-62. The first verse goes as follows: “I saw fair Peace, descending from on high, Strewing the earth with gold, and corn, and flow’rs; The air was calm, and hush’d all soothingly The last faint thunder of the War-gods pow’rs. The goddess spoke: ‘Equals in worth and might, Sons of French, Germans, Russ, or British lands, Form an alliance, Peoples, and unite, In Friendship firm, your hands’.”

35 In Les Soirées this passage is attributed to the Socialist, but it is obviously the Economist who is speaking, and it continues the debate between the Economist and the Conservative.

36 Molinari repeats here the list of conditions which he first set out in his article “De la production de la sécurité” in JDE, February 1849, p. 288.

37 Total debt held by the French government in 1848 amounted to fr. 5.2 billion which required annual payments of fr. 384 million to service. Since total annual income for the government in 1848 was fr. 1.4 billion the outstanding debt was 3.7 times receipts and debt repayments took up 27.6% of annual government income. See Gustave de Puynode, “Crédit public,” DEP, vol. 1, pp. 508-25.