About this Blog


This blog contains the thoughts and musings of David Hart concerning the classical liberal tradition, war and the state, and film and art. His main website contains his research and a growing library of books in the classical liberal tradition. See the most recent additions.

[David contemplating the move back to Sydney.]

For more information see his CV (2019), a description of his Areas of Expertise and Scholarly Activity (PDF) and his LinkedIn page.

See the list of recent books, papers, talks, and lectures at my website.

For an explanation of the banner image of Picasso’s “Guernica, see this page.

The eBook Collection of the “Digital Library of Liberty and Power”

The texts in this collection are classic works about liberty which I believe deserve more careful formatting. They are either first editions or later, revised, definitive editions of the work.

The image I have chosen for the “logo” of the collection is of a “Phrygian cap”, the cap worn by freed slaves in the ancient world. This particular image comes from the French revolutionary period. It was also used by Thomas Hollis in the mid-18th century for his collection of books about liberty which he published and circulated in the American colonies in the decades leading up to the American Revolution.

To make these editions useful to scholars and to make it more readable, I have done the following:

General Formatting Principles

  1. the HTML version of the text has been checked against a facsimile PDF of the original; this facs. PDF is included in the “collection of files” which have been “zipped” for convenient download
  2. I have avoided the practice of some coders to laboriously “over code” the text by keeping the coding clean and simple, based upon the structure of the text (heading levels, quotes, page numbers, footnotes) using a common “cascading style sheet” which is modified on occasion to suit the specific text.
  3. once the HTML text has been formatted a text based PDF is created from it (using “Print to PDF” from the browser and then edited in Acrobat), as is an ePub version (using Calibre)
  4. these texts (HTML, PDF, ePub) along with the accompanying css file, facsimile PDF, and any images, are “zipped” into a collection which can be downloaded as a “collection”

(See the screen snapshots below which illustrate some of these principles.)

More Specific Formatting Principles

  1. I have inserted and highlighted the page numbers of the original edition (this is enable the reader to cite the exact page number of a quote)
  2. when possible, I have inserted unique paragraph ID numbers in the text (these remain hidden for the time being but they can be viewed in “Page Source”)
  3. I have not split a word if it has been hyphenated across a line or a new page (this will assist in making word searches across the text)
  4. I have retained the spaces which separate sections of the text (and in some instances increased them slightly to make the text easier to read, particularly to separate numbered sections of the text in the volumes by John Locke, Herbert Spencer, an d Vilfredo Pareto)
  5. I have created an indented “blocktext” for long quotations
  6. I have placed the footnotes at the end of the book or major section
  7. I have moved the table of contents to the top of the file and inserted “back links” to facilitate navigation of the text)
  8. I have used a fixed width of 600 pixels for the main body of the text to make online reading easier
  9. I have formatted short margin notes to float right; longer margin notes have been turned into endnotes
  10. I have inserted Greek and Hebrew words as images
  11. I have also used images to display graphs and complex tables

(See the screen snapshots below which illustrate some of these principles.)

In summary: The texts are available in ebook HTML, ebook PDF, and ePub formats, and include the page numbers of the original editions. The style sheet is designed to make them look as similar to the original edition as possible. They are also packaged in a zipped file which contains all eBook formats and copies of the original text in facsimile PDF.

Selection Criteria for the Texts

I began working on this collection in June 2022 and now have online a collection of 30 texts. These are books which I consider to be some of the most significant works about liberty ever written. I have been gradually working my way through my list of “The Great Books of Liberty” here.

Another feature which I believe is important is that whenever possible we should go back to the original text, the first edition if possible (or the final version done by the author in his lifetime, e.g. the 1790 edition of Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments), and in the original language.

Some of the works are multi-volume ones, such as Herbert Spencer’s The Principles of Sociology or Alexis de Toqueville’s De la Démocratie en Amérique. I have preserved the integrity of the separate volumes in my editions, but I have also taken the liberty of combining them into one long file, again to aid doing word searches across the entire text.

Given the unfortunate neglect of classical liberal sociology (see my blog post on this here I have made a conscious effort in this initial collection to give special attention to this area, as with the work by Comte and Dunoyer, Herbert Spencer, Gustave de Molinari, Alexis de Tocqueville, Vilfredo Pareto, Friedrich von Wieser, and Franz Oppenheimer.

Screen snapshots

[The HTML text (Bastiat) in a browser showing the chapter heading, back link, the original page number.]

[The HTML in a browser (Condorcet) showing the original page number, the table of contents, and a chapter with a back link to the ToC.]

[The HTML in a browser (Locke), showing a chapter with page number, back link tot he ToC, an image of a Greek phrase, a link to a footnote (now an “endnote”).]

[Editing the text in Dreamweaver (Molinari). It shows the original page number (“pn”), the chapter heading with a back link to the main table of contents, a “blockquote” for a long quotation, and the unique paragraph ID number.]

[The HTML in a browser (Pareto) showing the highlighted and numbered paragraph section, the image of a greek quote, a link to some additional text which can be found at the end of the document, a footnote/endnote reference number (which is not linked in this case), and space between the numbered sections.]

[The HTML in a browser (Pareto) showing the volume volume page number, a heading with a back link to the ToC, the space between the numbered sections, the image of a “figure”.]

[The HTML in a browser (Spencer) showing the multi-volume page number, a chapter heading and back link, a numbered section with a gasp between it and the next.]

Œuvres complètes de Gustave de Molinari

The Institut Coppet has recently published volume 9 of the Œuvres complètes (Complete Works) of Gustave de Molinari, thus completing the first 10 years of his long and very productive life. Only 60 more years to go!

See a comprehensive (though probably still not complete) bibliography of his works which consists of 73 Books, Printed Pamphlets, and Intros to books; and 240 articles.

I have also put online dozens of his stand alone books and magazines/journals which he edited and wrote for, as well as three anthologies of his work:

  1. an overview of his life and work: “Gustave de Molinari (1819–1912): A Survey of the Life and Work of an “Économiste Dure” (A Hard-Core Economist)” here
  2. a bibliography with links to his works online here
  3. and this list of recently added items
  4. these three anthologies of Molinari’s writings for the bicentennial: “The Bicentennial Anthology of the Writings of Gustave de Molinari on the State (1846-1911)” (Nov. 2018) the first.
  5. “The Collected Articles by Gustave de Molinari from the Dictionnaire de l’économie politique (1852-53)” (June, 2019) the second
  6. “Molinari’s Collected Writings on the Production of Security (1846-1901)” (Aug., 2019) the third.

The Institut Coppet Edition of the Collected Works of Molinari

The set so far consists of the following volumes:

  • Volume 1 : Avant la conversion au libéralisme (1842-1845)
  • Volume 2: Libre-échange et réforme électorale (1845-1846)
  • Volume 3 : Le libre-échange sans compromission (1846)
  • Volume 4 : L’entrée au Journal des économistes (1846-1847)
  • Volume 5 : Dans la tempête révolutionnaire (1848)
  • Volume 6 : La liberté des gouvernements (1849)
  • Volume 7 : La république menacée (1850)
  • Volume 8 : La solitude et l’exil (1851)
  • Volume 9 : En exil dans son propre pays (1852)

I have put together the full tables of contents of these volumes into one file.

Below are the full publishing details, a brief description of the contents of each volume, and links to the downloadable PDFs (free of charge) from the Institut Coppet website. Below that, there is an abbreviated table of contents listing the 64 main parts of the collection.

Œuvres complètes de Gustave de Molinari, sous la direction de Mathieu Laine, avec le soutien de M. André de Molinari, et avec des notes et notices par Benoît Malbranque (Paris: Institut Coppet, 2019-).

Volume 1 : Avant la conversion au libéralisme (1842-1845). — Les premiers écrits, redécouverts pour la première fois, témoignent que le jeune Molinari était d’abord éloigné des principes du libéralisme. PDF

Volume 2: Libre-échange et réforme électorale (1845-1846). — Après sa conversion, Molinari s’engage dans la défense du libre-échange aux côtés de Bastiat, dans des textes retrouvés pour la première fois et inédits. PDF

Volume 3 : Le libre-échange sans compromission (1846). — Suite des articles inédits de Molinari sur le libre-échange. L’auteur s’affirme progressivement comme un libéral radical. PDF

Volume 4 : L’entrée au Journal des économistes (1846-1847). — Suite des articles inédits. Ayant fait ses preuves, Molinari intègre aussi le Journal des économistes et le « réseau Guillaumin ». De larges notices donnent sur ces faits des éclairages tout à fait nouveaux. PDF

Volume 5 : Dans la tempête révolutionnaire (1848). — Les évènements révolutionnaires de février et juin 1848 forcent Gustave de Molinari à abandonner ses premiers combats, notamment en faveur du libre-échange, pour une action journalistique de réaction qui doit sauver les assises de la société face à la menace rouge. Après une large notice, en tête de volume, revenant sur cet environnement éminemment nouveau, ce volume donne à lire une masse d’articles retrouvés dans la presse parisienne et inexplorés jusqu’à aujourd’hui. PDF

Volume 6 : La liberté des gouvernements (1849). — Après les tremblements de la révolution de 1848, Gustave de Molinari renouvelle la défense de la liberté et de la propriété, notions si attaquées, en étendant le champ d’application du libéralisme traditionnel. Ses théories dites anarcho-capitalistes, sur la privatisation des fonctions régaliennes de l’État et la liberté des gouvernements, sont exposées dans le Journal des économistes puis la même année dans les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare, et font date dans l’histoire du libéralisme. PDF

Volume 7 : La république menacée (1850). — Après avoir imaginé la privatisation des gouvernements dans deux contributions fameuses, Gustave de Molinari devait affronter, en journaliste de tous les jours, les déceptions du suffrage universel et les dangers de l’agitation socialo-communiste. Sans grand enthousiasme, mais parce que la survie de la civilisation en dépendait, il se ralliait politiquement au camp de l’ordre, représenté par la figure sans cesse montante et dominante du président bientôt empereur, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. PDF

Volume 8 : La solitude et l’exil (1851). — L’année 1851 est une époque de transformations importantes dans le paysage intellectuel de Gustave de Molinari, entre l’annonce de la mort de Frédéric Bastiat, qui ouvre cette année troublée, et le coup d’État du président Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, qui la clôt et contraint l’auteur à l’exil. Dans des centaines d’articles donnés à la presse quotidienne parisienne, Molinari étudie cette montée en puissance du régime présidentiel bonapartiste, qu’il perçoit d’abord comme une espérance, un rempart face à la « menace rouge », mais qui se révélera finalement plein de dangers. PDF

Volume 9 : En exil dans son propre pays (1852). — Éloigné physiquement de la scène du libéralisme économique français, Gustave de Molinari poursuit sa collaboration aux grandes œuvres du mouvement : le Journal des économistes, et le nouveau Dictionnaire de l’économie politique. En Belgique, il ouvre un cours d’économie politique et prononce des conférences. La menace que Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte représente pour les libertés en France mais aussi en Belgique apparaît lancinante, et domine l’arrière-plan. PDF

The Collected Tables of Contents of the Coppet Edition

Volume 1 : Avant la conversion au libéralisme (1842-1845)

Préface, par Mathieu Laine, p. v

Introduction. — La jeunesse belge de Gustave de Molinari, p. 1


  • (001) CHRONIQUES POLITIQUES (Le biographe universel, revue générale biographique et littéraire), p. 11

  • (002) BULLETIN LITTÉRAIRE (Le biographe universel, revue générale biographique et littéraire), p. 65

  • (003) BIOGRAPHIES (Le biographe universel, revue générale biographique et littéraire), p. 70


  • (004) LAMARTINE, p. 99




  • (007) ÉTUDES ÉCONOMIQUES. Le Courrier français, octobre-novembre 1844, p. 215

  • (008) L’INSTRUCTION PUBLIQUE. Des compagnies religieuses et de la publicité de l’instruction publique, 1844, p. 241

  • (009) LE COURRIER FRANÇAIS, p. 264


  • (010) LE COURRIER FRANÇAIS, p. 287

  • (011) LA MOBILISATION DU TRAVAIL. De la mobilisation du travail, La Réforme, 9 juin et 9 juillet 1845, p. 352

  • (012) LE COURRIER FRANÇAIS, p. 371

Annexe, p. 447

Volume 2: Libre-échange et réforme électorale (1845-1846)

1845 (suite)


  • (014) LE COURRIER FRANÇAIS, p. 30


  • (015) ÉTUDES ÉCONOMIQUES, p. 226

  • (016) LA RENCONTRE AVEC FRÉDÉRIC BASTIAT. Souvenirs, p. 313

  • (017) LE COURRIER FRANÇAIS, p. 315

Volume 3 : Le libre-échange sans compromission (1846)

1845 (suite)

  • (018) LE COURRIER FRANÇAIS, p. 5

  • (020) LE COURRIER FRANÇAIS, p. 273


  • (022) LE COURRIER FRANÇAIS, p. 411

Volume 4 : L’entrée au Journal des économistes (1846-1847)

1846 (suite)


  • (024) LE COURRIER FRANÇAIS, p. 53



  • (026) LE COURRIER FRANÇAIS, p. 107

  • (027) LA QUESTION DES DOUANES, p. 120





  • (032) CONGRÈS DES ÉCONOMISTES À BRUXELLES. Souvenirs, p. 320

  • (033) JOURNAL LE LIBRE-ÉCHANGE, p. 325

  • (034) UNE CRITIQUE DE PROUDHON, p. 342




Volume 5 : Dans la tempête révolutionnaire (1848)


Introduction. — De nouvelles circonstances, p. 5





  • (042) JACQUES BONHOMME, p. 171


  • (044) LE COMMERCE, p. 256

Volume 6 : La liberté des gouvernements (1849)


  • (045) CORRESPONDANCE, p. 5




  • (049) LA LIBERTÉ DES THÉÂTRES, p. 301

  • (050) LA PATRIE, p. 334


  • (052) MARIAGE avec Mlle Edmée Terrillon. Annonce officielle, p. 470

Volume 7 : La république menacée (1850)


  • (053) LA PATRIE, p. 5


  • (055) LA PATRIE, p. 306

Volume 8 : La solitude et l’exil (1851)


  • (056) LA PATRIE, p. 5



Volume 9 : En exil dans son propre pays (1852)









Molinari on War and Peace


Towards the end of his very long life, the French economist Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912) said that he had spent his entire life fighting in one form or another, protectionism, socialism, slavery, statism, and militarism.

He went to Paris as a young man and would-be journalist in 1841 from his native Belgium and began writing on current issues such as free trade and protection and the right of workers to form voluntary associations like trade unions; before gradually moving on to other topics such as slavery and other forms of coerced labour and the rise of socialism; and then Malthusian population theory, the role of war in the evolution of the state, the emergence of a ruling class and favoured interest groups who came to dominate the state, and the application of economic ideas to understand “everything” (including public goods, the family, the church, etc). Most famously among modern libertarians was his pioneering work on the private provision of public goods such as police and national defense, making the “first anarcho-capitalist”.


The Coppet Institute is publishing the Oeuvres complètes (Complete Works) of Molinari in a very ambitious undertaking. They have completed 9 volumes which only cover the first 10 years of Molinari’s long and productive life from 1842-1852. Since their site is poorly laid out and hard to navigate I have listed the volumes, a brief description of their contents, a more detailed version of their tables of contents, and links to download the PDFs here. In the meantime, go here À propos des Œuvres complètes de Gustave de Molinari – Institut Coppet.

My own bibliography of the works of Molinari with 73 Books, Printed Pamphlets, and Intros to books and 240 articles.

A paper I gave: “Was Molinari a True Anarcho-Capitalist?: An Intellectual History of the Private and Competitive Production of Security.” A paper given at the Libertarian Scholars Conference, New York City (28 Sept. 2019). Online.

And other material on the French political economists.

Molinari’s Evolving Interest in War and Peace

To take just the war and peace thread of his thought one can track his interest through the following stages:

1.) The Paris Peace Conference of 1849

A large international Peace Conference was held in Paris in August 1849, which was presided over by Victor Hugo and at which Bastiat gave an important speech (as did Richard Cobden). Molinari wrote on this for the Journal des Économistes (the main journal of the Paris economists). I included Bastiat’s speech in one of the volumes of his works I edited for Liberty Fund.


Bastiat’s Speech to the Peace Congress on “Disarmament and Taxes” (August 1849), in Addendum, CW3, pp. 526-32. Speech

2.) Articles for the *Dictionnaire de l’économie politique* (1852-1853).

The “30 something” Molinari was already an acknowledged expert on war and peace matters (as he was on the the history of tariffs) and he made important contributions on these topics (as well as many others) for the monumental DEP. He wrote the articles on “Guerre” (War), “Nations”, and “Paix” (Peace) . which he wrote for the Dictionnaire de l’économie politique (1852-1853).


See all of his articles here en français and a selection in English here.

3.) The Ideal of “Perpetual Peace” and a League of Neutral States

After he left Paris in 1852 to avoid the tyranny of Napoleon III he wrote a book (1857) on the 18th century peace advocate, the Abbey Saint-Pierre (1658-1743), who introduced him to ideas about the ideal of “perpetual peace” and a “league for peace” which he thought would make this ideal achievable. Part of his lengthy introduction to the book was published as an article in the JDE (Oct. 1856). Molinari continued to write on this throughout the 1860s in articles which appeared hi his own journal l’Économiste belge (The Belgian Economist) and in pamphlets like Le Congrès européen (The European Congress) (1864). Many of these shorter pieces can be found in the Appendix of of his book Grandeur et décadence de la guerre (1898). He would take these ideas up again in the late 1880s with his Projet d’Association pour l’établissement d’une Ligue des neutres (1887) (Plan for an Association to establish a League of Neutral Countries), and in an article in English which appeared in the London Times.


The extract from his book on the Abbé de Saint-Pierre is published by the Institut Coppet: “La Paix perpétuelle est-elle une utopie ?” (Is Perpetual Peace a Utopia?) here.

I have the entire book online in facs. PDF.

The Appendix of his book Grandeur et décadence de la guerre (1898). The full book is here

4.) The Role of War in the Evolution of Markets and States

The role of war in the evolution of markets and organised states is a central part of his series of works on historical sociology which appeared in the 1880s, beginning with L’évolution économique du XIXe siècle: théorie du progrès (Economic Evolution in the 19th Century: A Theory of Progress) (1880) and then its sequel L’évolution politique et la révolution (Political Evolution and the Revolution) (1884). In these works he argued that war had once served a useful purpose by protecting productive groups from barbarian invasions and the plunder and taxation which this entailed, but had outlived this function as a permanent warrior class emerged which institutionalized plunder in the form of the early state. In the modern era in which advanced markets and an articulate class of producers had appeared, war and militarism had now become the greatest threat to the evolution of societies.


Over a period of about 20 years Molinari wrote a series of 4 books on political and economic sociology, in war played a major part in his theory:

  1. L’évolution économique du XIXe siècle: théorie du progrès (Economic Evolution in the 19th Century: A Theory of Progress) (Paris: C. Reinwald 1880) in HTML
  2. L’évolution politique et la révolution (Political Evolution and the Revolution) (Paris: C. Reinwald, 1884) in HTML
  3. Grandeur et décadence de la guerre (The Rise and Fall of War) (Paris: Guillaumin, 1898) in HTML
  4. and a final fourth volume which summarises his life’s work on this topic: Économie de l’histoire: Théorie de l’Évolution (The Economics of History: A Theory of Evolution) (Paris: F. Alcan, 1908) in HTML

These 4 volumes are also part of my eBook Collection of the Great Works of Liberty.

I have written previously on the neglect of classical liberal sociology and class analysis. See my blog post on “The Scandalous Neglect of Classical Liberal Sociology” (30 May 2021) here.

5.) War and Peace at the End of the 19th Century

As the combination of a new tariff war, the rise of organised socialist parties, and another arms race threatened the peace and prosperity of the major European powers at the end of the 19th century, Molinari returned to the problem of war and peace in another book on historical sociology (the third in his series) where he treats war in considerable detail, Grandeur et décadence de la guerre (The Rise and Fall of War) (1898); and then again in a pair of articles in which he sums up the achievements and failures of the liberal movement throughout the 19th century, and the prospects for liberty (and war and peace) in the coming 20th century: “Le XIXe siècle”, JDE (Jan. 1901) and “Le XXe siècle”, JDE (Jan. 1902). I discuss his pessimistic and quite accurate prognosis for the coming century in my article subtitled “The End of the Century, the End of Liberty?”: ”Gustave de Molinari and the Future Of Liberty: ‘Fin De Siècle, Fin De La Liberté’?” (2021).


Gustave de Molinari, Grandeur et décadence de la guerre (The Rise and Fall of War) (Paris: Guillaumin, 1898) in HTML.

A recent new edition of this work: Gustave de Molinari, Grandeur et Décadence de la Guerre (Paris: Institut Coppet, 2015). Introduction par Benoît Malbranque. Available to download in PDF.

My version is a reproduction of the first edition, with original page numbers for citation purposes is here. It is also part of my eBook collection of “Great Books about Liberty” which are available in various eBook formats such as HTML, PDF, and ePub, from here.

Gustave de Molinari, “Le XIXe siècle”, Journal des Économistes, Janvier 1901, 5e série, T. XLV, pp. 5-19; and “Le XXe siècle”, Journal des Économistes, Janvier 1902, 5e série, T. XLIX, pp. 5-14. These articles are included in an Appendix to my article below.

David M. Hart, ”Gustave de Molinari and the Future Of Liberty: ‘Fin De Siècle, Fin De La Liberté’?” (2001, 2021). Here.

6.) His “Final Words” on the Matter

Literally his “last words” on the subject of war appeared in the last chapter of the last book he published in 1911 the year before he died: Ultima Verba: Mon dernier ouvrage (Last Words: My Final Work). This was his 73rd and would indeed be his last book. In an uncharacteristically optimistic conclusion, he believed that “une révolution silencieuse” (a silent revolution) had been at work during the 19th century which had made the “business” of war less and less profitable even for those who started the wars (the professional diplomats and politicians), ran the wars (the officer class), supplied states with the weapons to fight the wars (the munitions manufacturers), and those who loaned money to fund the wars (the bankers). What had once been a profitable business for the ruling class was no longer the case – even for the victors. Given the added costs of weaponry, the greater destruction caused by the new weapons, and the willingness of states to go further and further into debt to fund wars, the ordinary taxpayers would, he thought, have to rise up in rebellion after the next European war to finally bring war to an end.

On doit craindre qu’à la suite d’une guerre européenne l’ensemble des dettes des Etats soit presque doublé. Les populations ne pourront soutenir des guerres devenues trop onéreuses — ou subvenir aux frais des préparatifs de guerre — et, malgré ceux qui [333] en profitent et qui opposeront, sans nul doute, aux efforts pacifiques, une résistance acharnée, elles rejetteront ce lourd fardeau. Et ce sera la fin de la guerre. Elle coûtera trop cher aux belligérants et elle causera aux neutres un dommage croissant.

One would be right to fear that at the end of a (future) European war that total State debt would have almost doubled. Populations will not be able to support wars which have become too onerous, or to be able to pay the costs of the build up to (future) wars. In spite of (the fact that) those who profit from them (wars) will no doubt put up a bloody resistance to any anti-war (pacifist) efforts, they (the population) will throw off this heavy burden. And this will be the end of war. It will cost too much for the belligerents and cause increasing damage to neutral countries.

He didn’t mention in this final passage the more realistic fears he had expressed in his 1902 article about the coming 20th century, that it might take a couple of generations of war, economic depression, and brutal political oppression before the people would come to this awful realisation. But he was convinced that ultimately they would.


Gustave de Molinari, Ultima Verba: Mon dernier ouvrage (Last Words: My Final Work) (1911), Chap. XVIII. “La révolution silencieuse. La guerre” (War: The Silent Revolution), pp. 327-333. [facs. PDF[(http://davidmhart.com/liberty/FrenchClassicalLiberals/Molinari/Books/Molinari_1911UltimaVerba.pdf).

Additional Reading

The standard older works on the attitude of the political economists to war were by Edmund Silberner, only one of which has been translated into English:

Edmund Silberner , La Guerre dans la pensée économique du XVIe et XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Sirey, 1939).

Edmund Silberner, The Problem of War in Nineteenth Century Economic Thought, trans. Alexander H. Krappe (Princeton University Press, 1946). On James Mill, John Stuart Mill, Jean-Babtiste Say, Frédéric Bastiat and Gustave de Molinari.

Edmund Silberner, La Guerre et la paix dans l’histoire des doctrines économiques (Paris: Sirey, 1957).

Benoît Malbranque’s Introduction to the Institut Coppet edition of Molinari’s Grandeur et décadence de la guerre is online:

Benoît Malbranque, “Un ami de la paix : Gustave de Molinari” (Molinari: A Friend of Peace) Institut Coppet (décembre 12, 2015)


To coincide with the 2015 publication of Molinari’s book Benoît also wrote a series of articles for the Institut Coppet’s magazine Laissons Faire on the importance of peace and liberty to the French political economists, which is a very good survey of the field: “« Paix et liberté ». La question de la paix chez les économistes français” (Peace and Liberty: The Question of Peace (in the thought of) the French Economists) (January and March, 2015). The article was written in 4 parts, consisting of

  1. “Bellicisme des Mercantilistes, Pacifisme des Libéraux (1570-1750)” (The Bellicism of the Mercantilists and the Pacifism of the Liberals)
  2. “Pacifisme et Cosmopolitisme des Physiocrates” (The Pacifism and Cosmopolitanism of the Physiocrats)
  3. “« Paix et Liberte » : L’idéal Pacisite (sic) des Disciples de J.-B. Say” (‘Peace and Liberty’: The Ideal of Peace of the Followers of JB Say)
  4. “Conclusion : La Paix est-elle une Vertu Française ?” (Conclusion: Is Peace a Virtue of the French (Economists)?)

These have been published as a booklet: Benoît Malbranque, La question de la paix dans l’économie politique française (Paris: Institut Coppet, 2015) which is available in PDF.

A Workers Party Reunion: What’s in a Name?

A group of founders and early supporters of Australia’s first “libertarian party” – provocatively and toungue-in-cheek perhaps called the “Workers Party” – are getting together later this month for a “Reunion”. To encourge discussion and reflection on those tumultuous years nearly half a century ago I have listed below some of my recent blog posts and other contibutions to the liberty movement.

Some Thoughts on the Name

An attempt at ideological reclamation

Some of us thought that it was wrong that communists, socialists, and nazis had claimed the exclusive right to speak on behalf of “the workers” and so felt they were entitled to use the word “worker” in the name of their political parties. Something similar could be said about “labour” (or “labor”) and the parties which claimed to speak on behalf of those who “laboured”. CLs and libertarians believed that all workers and labourers should be represented politically, whether they worked with their hands, or their minds, or other organs (such as their voice (singers), their tongues (wine tasters), or their fingers (guitarists and pianists)).

An assertion that there was an alternative theory of class exploitation

There was also a not so subtle dig at the socialist idea of expolitation of the working class (those who worked with their hands) who were paid a wage by a “capitalist class” who took some of their wage as a form of “unearned income” or “profit”. We were aware that there was an alternative theory of class, a “classical liberal theory of class analysis” as it were, which was based on the idea that there were only two ways in which wealth could be acquired, either by

  1. the “economic means”, i.e. producing it oneself or exchanging the things one produced voluntarily with others, in other words via the free market, or
  2. the “political means”, whereby one took by force the wealth produced by others, usually with the assistance of the state. (Note: this distinction was made by Franz Oppenheimer in The State (1908).)

Thus, the aim of the WP was to attempt to place a limit (or completely abolish) the power of the state to take the wealth produced by all kinds of “workers” and “labourers”, and to thus allow the complete freedom of all individuals to produce and exchange the products of their work, and most importantly to keep any profits they had legitimately made (i.e. non-coercively).

The temptation to blame the name for the WP’s political failure

After the disappointing results of the 1975 election, and later ones as well, many in the party placed the blame on the name, which it was thought, “confused” the voters. Hence the move to eventually change the name to the more anodyne “Progress Party”. In my view, the original name was deliberately provocative and opened the way for interesting discussions with sympathetic voters about the nature of politics and free markets, the nature of exploitation, and who exploited whom. The underlying reason for the failure of the WP then and for people in the liberty movement today, is that most people have deeply ingrained views which are fundamentally opposed to CL/libertarianism, and thus the formal name of the political party is a bit beside the point. These views in my opinion are the following:

  1. people do not value individual or economic liberty highly, preferring instead things like “equality”, “diversity,” “inclusion”, “sustainability”, “safety,” etc.
  2. people want to get something for nothing (i.e. to force other people to pay for it), they expect politicians to provide them with these “free” things (hence the existence of elections), and see nothing wrong with politicians and bureaucrats using the powers of the state (force, coercion) to do this
  3. people have a very exaggerated idea of the extent of and reasons for “market failure” and thus the need for government regulation or provision of goods and services
  4. people have barely (if any) idea of how pervasive, profound, and pervasive “government failure” is now and has been historically
  5. there is massive public ignorance of basic economic ideas

Until these five impediments to the spread and public acceptance of these ideas are weakened and (I hope) eventually removed it doesn’t matter what we call our political party.

In a blog post (listed below) I half jokingly described an emerging anti-political group in the last election, the “Negative Political Party.”

The recent legal stuggles of the Liberal Democrat Party over who is entitled to use the name “Liberal” shows that this is an issue that will not go away.

Some Posts and Online Texts to consider

See in general my blog site “Reflections on Liberty and Power” and my website “The Digital Library of Liberty and Power” – an overview and recent additions.

On the Workers Party in particular:

  1. “Reflections on the Workers Party” (28 October, 2020) here
  2. the WP platform (1975) here

On the current state of the liberty movement and the threats we face:

  1. “The Work of Sisyphus: the Urgent Need for Intellectual Change” (25 April, 2020) here
  2. “The State of the Libertarian Movement after 50 Years (1970-2020): Some Observations” (25 March, 2021) here
  3. “A List of Posts on the Current State of Liberty and the Threats it faces” (5 July, 2022) here; in particular:
    1. “The Prospects for Liberty: The Threats it faces and how to counter them” (23 March, 2022) here
    2. “The Threats to Liberty Part 1: Government Expenditure” (29 June, 2022) here
    3. “The Threats to Liberty Part 2: The Size and Power of the State” (7 July, 2022) here

On liberty and liberalism in Australia:

  1. “Liberty in Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region” (5 July, 2022) here
  2. “The Negative Political Party” (11 July, 2022) here
  3. On the “Linoleum Party” (LINO): “The Incoherence and Contradictions inherent in Modern Liberal Parties (and one in particular)” (21 Oct. 2021) here
  4. “The Myth of a liberal ‘Australian Way of Life’” (20 June 2021) here

Some works by Australian CLs/libertarians I have put online:

  1. overview page
  2. “the Australian Frédéric Bastiat” William Edward Hearn (1826-1888)
  3. the radical liberal Bruce Smith (1851-1937)
  4. my online version of the WP platform (1975)

My series on “The Classical Liberal Tradition: A Four Hundred Year History of Ideas and Movements” (24 Oct. 2021; updated: 25 Apr. 2022) here

My Research on the Paris School

  • Part I: The Rise of “The Economists” and the Heyday of the Paris School in the First Half of the 19th Century
  • Part II: The Late 19th Century and the Decline of “The School of Liberty”
  • Part III: Texts and Editions

Some blog posts in which I which summarise my thoughts:

  1. “ An Introduction to the Paris School of Political Economy” (7 Aug. 2022) <http://davidmhart.com/wordpress/archives/1579)>
  2. “The Guillaumin Network and the Paris School of Political Economy” (7 Aug. 2022) <http://davidmhart.com/wordpress/archives/1577>
  3. “A Publishing History of the Guillaumin Firm (1837-1910)” (5 Aug. 2022) <http://davidmhart.com/wordpress/archives/1575>
  4. “Some Thoughts on Editing, Translating, and Displaying online the Work of the French ‘Économistes’” (4 Aug. 2022) <http://davidmhart.com/wordpress/archives/1566>

Part I: The Rise of “The Economists” and the Heyday of the Paris School in the First Half of the 19th Century

David M. Hart, “The Paris School of Liberal Political Economy, 1803-1853” (2022)


The study of a large group like the “Paris School” of political economy over the course of the 19th century reveals some interesting issues for historians of economic thought. In addition to whatever theoretical innovations some of them may have produced (such as an early formulation of subjective value theory (Frédéric Bastiat), the important role of the entrepreneur (Gustave de Molinari), and free banking (Charles Coquelin)), there are also fascinating sociological issues such as how they organised themselves into professional associations (such as the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences (which had a Political Economy section) and the Société d’économie politique); how they networked socially with other elites via the various salons they organised in Paris; how they sought to apply their radical free market ideas to current political issues of the day though organisations such as the French Free Trade Association (organized by Bastiat) and the Friends of Peace organization (organized by Joseph Garnier); how they struggled to break into the state controlled university system which was hostile to free market ideas and sought to ghettoize the teaching of economics in the Law Faculties; and how they spread their ideas to a broader audience by means of the Guillaumin publishing firm which dominated economic publishing for over 70 years with the school’s main journal, the Journal des économistes and some 2,356 books, dictionaries, and encyclopedias which appeared between 1837-1910. Many members of the school also turned their hand to popularising economic ideas among the general public with varying degrees of success. Thus my paper will analyze the Paris School from the perspective of the history of ideas as well as the sociology of ideas in order to understand better the richness and complexity of this interesting group of economists.

Short published version (11 pp.):

Long version online (175 pp. or 46K words):

The Paris School Part II: The Late 19th Century and the Decline of “The School of Liberty”

David M. Hart, “Frédéric Passy and “The School of Liberty” (April, 1890)” (2017)

Summary: The Swiss Christian Society of Social Economy held a conference in the Great Hall of the University of Geneva between February and April 1890 to present to the public what the Society considered to be the leading representatives of the main schools of economic thought in the French-speaking world at the time. These were Claudio Jannet representing the School of State Socialism and Catholic Paternalism, Gaston Stiegler representing the Revolutionary Socialist School, Charles Gide representing the School of Socialist Solidarity, and Frédéric Passy representing the “School of Liberty”, otherwise known as free market economics. After the first three speakers had finished attacking every aspect of “heartless” free market economic thought Passy presented a vigorous defence of his school. My introduction puts this debate in its intellectual and political context and summarises the main criticisms levelled against the “school of liberty” and Passy’s defence. This is followed by a translation of Passy’s speech.

Published version: Journal of Markets and Morality, vol. 20, Number 2 (Fall 2017), pp. 383-412.

Part III: Texts and Editions

I have been collecting, editing, and putting online many texts of the Paris School on my personal website which is summarized here – “The Paris School of Political Economy” <http://davidmhart.com/liberty/Index-Pages/paris-school.html>.

The collection includes my own e-Book editions of some of the key texts <http://davidmhart.com/liberty/Index-Pages/paris-school.html#keypeople>, which to date includes:

  1. Turgot, Réflexions sur la formation et la distribution des richesses (1766, 1770)
  2. Condorcet, Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit humain (1795)
  3. J.B. Say, Traité d’économie politique (1803) (1841 6th edition)
  4. Constant, Commentaire sur l’ouvrage de Filangieri (1822-24)
  5. (in progress): Coquelin, Du Crédit et des Banques (1848)
  6. Molinari, Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare (1849)
  7. Molinari, Cours d’économie politique (1863)
  8. Bastiat, “Introduction” toCobden et la Ligue (1845)
  9. Bastiat, Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas (1850)
  10. Bastiat, La Loi(1850)
  11. (in progress): Bastiat, Harmonies économiques (2nd enlarged edition of 1851)
  12. Molinari, L’évolution économique du XIXe siècle (1880)
  13. Molinari, L’évolution politique et la Révolution (1884)