Economic Sophisms/244

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"surrounded, prevent our producing directly, and with reference to which we are placed in reality in the hypothetical position we have been examining with reference to iron. We produce at home neither tea, coffee, gold, nor silver. Is our industry en masse diminished in consequence? No; only in order to create the counter-value of these imported commodities, in order to acquire them by means of exchange, we detach from our national labour a portion less great than would be required to produce these things ourselves. More labour thus remains to be devoted to the procuring of other enjoyments. We are so much the richer and so much the stronger. All that external competition can do, even in cases where it puts an end absolutely to a determinate branch of industry, is to economize labour, and increase our productive power. Is this, in the case of the foreigner, the road to domination?

If we should find in France a gold mine, it does not follow that it would be for our interest to work it. Nay, it is certain that the enterprise would be neglected if each ounce of gold absorbed more of our labour than an ounce of gold purchased abroad with cloth. In this case we should do better to find our mines in our workshops. And what is true of gold is true of iron.

The illusion proceeds from our failure to see one thing, which is, that foreign superiority never puts a stop to national industry, except under a determinate form, and under that form only renders it superfluous by placing at our disposal the result of the very labour thus superseded. If men lived in diving-bells under water, and had to provide themselves with air by means of a pump, this would be a great source of employment. To throw obstacles in the way of such employment, as long as men were left in this condition, would be to inflict upon them a frightful injury. But if the labour ceases because the necessity for its exertion no longer exists, because men are placed in a medium where air is introduced into their lungs without effort, then the loss of that labour is not to be regretted, except in the eyes of men who obstinately persist in seeing in labour nothing but labour in the abstract.

It is exactly this kind of labour which machinery, commercial freedom, progress of every kind, gradually supersedes;