Economic Sophisms/98

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"not the necessary, eternal, and indestructible mainspring to which Providence has confided human perfectibility. Are we not represented as being all angels of disinterestedness? And does the thought never occur to those who say so, that the public begins to see with disgust that this affected language disfigures the pages of those very writers who are most successful in filling their own pockets at the public expense? Oh! affectation! affectation! thou art verily the besetting sin of our times!

What! because material prosperity and peace are things correlative, because it has pleased God to establish this beautiful harmony in the moral world, am I not to admire, am I not to adore His ordinances, am I not to accept with gratitude laws which make justice the condition of happiness? You desire peace only in as far as it runs counter to material prosperity; and liberty is rejected because it does not impose sacrifices. If abnegation has indeed so many charms for you, why do you fail to practise it in private life? Society will be grateful to you, for some one, at least, will reap the fruit; but to desire to im- pose it upon mankind as a principle is the very height of absurdity, for the abnegation of all is the sacrifice of all, which is evil erected into a theory.

But, thank Heaven, one can write or read many of these declamations without the world ceasing on that account to obey the social motive force, which leads us to shun evil and seek after good, and which, whether they like it or not, we must denominate personal interest.

After all, it is singular enough to see sentiments of the most sublime self-denial invoked in support of spoliation itself. See to what this boasted disinterestedness tends! These men who are so fantastically delicate as not to desire peace itself, if it is founded on the vile interest of mankind, put their hand into the pockets of others, and especially of the poor; for what article of the tariff protects the poor? Be pleased, gentlemen, to dispose of what belongs to yourselves as you think proper, but leave us the disposal of the fruit of our own toil, to use it or exchange it as we see best. Declaim on self-sacrifice as much as you choose,

it is all very fine and very beautiful, but be at least consistent.