Economic Sophisms/144

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"by that simple explanation, stimulates him to react against those who injure him, and honour those who are useful to him. It strives to disseminate among the oppressed masses enough of good sense, information, and well-founded distrust, to render oppression more and more difficult and dangerous.

We must remark, too, that the economic principle of morality does not fail to act likewise on the oppressor. An injurious act is productive of both good and evil; evil for the man who is subject to it, and good for the man who avails himself of it; without which indeed it would not have been thought of. But the good and the evil are far from compensating each other. The sum total of evil always and necessarily preponderates over the good; because the very fact that oppression is present entails a loss of power, creates dangers, provokes reprisals, and renders costly precautions necessary. The simple explanation of these effects, then, not only provokes reaction on the part of the oppressed, but brings over to the side of justice all whose hearts are not perverted, and disturbs the security of the oppressors themselves.

But it is easy to understand that this economic principle of morality, which is rather virtual than formal; which is only, after all, a scientific demonstration, which would lose its efficacy if it changed its character; which addresses itself not to the heart, but to the intellect; which aims at convincing rather than persuading; which does not give advice, but furnishes proofs; whose mission is not to touch the feelings, but enlighten the judgment, which obtains over vice no other victory than that of depriving it of support; it is easy, I say, to understand why this principle of morality should be accused of being dry and prosaic.

The reproach is well founded in itself, without being just in its application. It just amounts to saying that political economy does not discuss everything, that it does not comprehend everything—that it is not, in short, universal science. But who ever claimed for it this character, or put forward on its behalf so exorbitant a pretension?

The accusation would be well founded only if political economy presented its processes as exclusive, and had the

presumption, if we may so speak, to deny to philosophy and