Economic Sophisms/146

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"It is not by monopolists, but by their victims, that monopolies are maintained.

In the matter of elections, it is not because there are parties who offer bribes that there are parties open to receive them, but the contrary; and the proof of this is, that it is the parties who receive the bribes who, in the long run, defray the cost of corruption. Is it not their business to put an end to the practice? Let the religious principle of morality, if it can, touch the hearts of the Tartuffes, the Cæsars, the planters of colonies, the sinecurists, the monopolists, etc. The clear duty of political economy is to enlighten their dupes.

Of these two processes, which exercises the more efficacious influence on social progress? I feel it almost unnecessary to say, that I believe it is the second; and I fear we can never exempt mankind from the necessity of learning first of all defensive morality.

After all I have heard and read and observed, I have never yet met with an instance of an abuse which had been in operation on a somewhat extensive scale, put an end to by the voluntary renunciation of those who profit by it.

On the other hand, I have seen many abuses put down by the determined resistance of those who suffered from them.

To expose the effects of abuses, then, is the surest means of putting an end to them. And this holds especially true of abuses like the policy of restriction, which, whilst inflicting real evils on the masses, are productive of nothing to those who imagine they profit by them but illusion and deception!

After all, can the kind of morality we are advocating of itself enable us to realize all that social perfection which the sympathetic nature of the soul of man and its noble faculties authorize us to look forward to and hope for? I am far from saying so. Assume the complete diffusion of defensive morality, it resolves itself simply into the conviction that men's interests, rightly understood, are always in accord with justice and general utility. Such a society, although certainly well ordered, would not be very attractive. There would be fewer cheats simply because there would be fewer dupes. Vice always lurking in the background, and starved, so to speak, for want of support,

would revive the moment that support was restored to it.