The Plane

A very long time ago there lived, in a poor village, a joiner, who was a

philosopher, as all my heroes are, in their way. James worked from

morning till night with his two strong arms, but his brain was not idle,

for all that. He was fond of reviewing his actions, their causes, and

their effects. He sometimes said to himself, With my hatchet, my saw,

and my hammer, I can make only coarse furniture, and can only get the

pay for such. If I only had a plane, I should please my customers

more, and they would pay me more. It is quite just; I can only expect

services proportioned to those which I render myself. Yes! I am

resolved, I will make myself a plane.

However, just as he was setting to work, James reflected further: I

work for my customers 300 days in the year. If I give ten to making my

plane, supposing it lasts me a year, only 290 days will remain for me to

make my furniture. Now, in order that I be not the loser in this matter,

I must gain henceforth, with the help of the plane, as much in 290 days,

as I now do in 300. I must even gain more; for unless I do so, it would

not be worth my while to venture upon any innovations. James began to

calculate. He satisfied himself that he should sell his finished

furniture at a price which would amply compensate for the ten days

devoted to the plane; and when no doubt remained on this point, he set

to work. I beg the reader to remark, that the power which exists in the

tool to increase the productiveness of labor, is the basis of the

solution which follows.

At the end of ten days, James had in his possession an admirable plane,

which he valued all the more for having made it himself. He danced for

joy--for, like the girl with her basket of eggs, he reckoned all the

profits which he expected to derive from the ingenious instrument; but

more fortunate than she, he was not reduced to the necessity of saying

good-bye to calf, cow, pig, and eggs, together. He was building his fine

castles in the air, when he was interrupted by his acquaintance William,

a joiner in the neighboring village. William having admired the plane,

was struck with the advantages which might be gained from it. He said to


W. You must do me a service.

J. What service?

W. Lend me the plane for a year.

As might be expected, James at this proposal did not fail to cry out,

How can you think of such a thing, William? Well, if I do you this

service, what will you do for me in return?

W. Nothing. Don't you know that a loan ought to be gratuitous? Don't

you know that capital is naturally unproductive? Don't you know

fraternity has been proclaimed? If you only do me a service for the sake

of receiving one from me in return, what merit would you have?

J. William, my friend, fraternity does not mean that all the

sacrifices are to be on one side; if so, I do not see why they should

not be on yours. Whether a loan should be gratuitous I don't know; but I

do know that if I were to lend you my plane for a year, it would be

giving it to you. To tell you the truth, that is not what I made it for.

W. Well, we will say nothing about the modern maxims discovered by

the Socialist gentlemen. I ask you to do me a service; what service do

you ask of me in return?

J. First, then, in a year, the plane will be done for, it will be good

for nothing. It is only just, that you should let me have another

exactly like it; or that you should give me money enough to get it

repaired; or that you should supply me the ten days which I must devote

to replacing it.

W. This is perfectly just. I submit to these conditions. I engage to

return it, or to let you have one like it, or the value of the same. I

think you must be satisfied with this, and can require nothing further.

J. I think otherwise. I made the plane for myself, and not for you. I

expected to gain some advantage from it, by my work being better

finished and better paid, by an improvement in my condition. What reason

is there that I should make the plane, and you should gain the profit? I

might as well ask you to give me your saw and hatchet! What a confusion!

Is it not natural that each should keep what he has made with his own

hands, as well as his hands themselves? To use without recompense the

hands of another, I call slavery; to use without recompense the plane of

another, can this be called fraternity?

W. But, then, I have agreed to return it to you at the end of a year,

as well polished and as sharp as it is now.

J. We have nothing to do with next year; we are speaking of this year.

I have made the plane for the sake of improving my work and my

condition; if you merely return it to me in a year, it is you who will

gain the profit of it during the whole of that time. I am not bound to

do you such a service without receiving anything from you in return;

therefore, if you wish for my plane, independently of the entire

restoration already bargained for, you must do me a service which we

will now discuss; you must grant me remuneration.

And this was done thus: William granted a remuneration calculated in

such a way that, at the end of the year, James received his plane quite

new, and in addition, a compensation, consisting of a new plank, for the

advantages of which he had deprived himself, and which he had yielded to

his friend.

It was impossible for any one acquainted with the transaction to

discover the slightest trace in it of oppression or injustice.

The singular part of it is, that, at the end of the year, the plane came

into James' possession, and he lent it again; recovered it, and lent it

a third and fourth time. It has passed into the hands of his son, who

still lends it. Poor plane! how many times has it changed, sometimes its

blade, sometimes its handle. It is no longer the same plane, but it has

always the same value, at least for James' posterity. Workmen! let us

examine into these little stories.

I maintain, first of all, that the sack of corn and the plane are

here the type, the model, a faithful representation, the symbol, of all

capital; as the five litres of corn and the plank are the type, the

model, the representation, the symbol, of all interest. This granted,

the following are, it seems to me, a series of consequences, the justice

of which it is impossible to dispute.

1st. If the yielding of a plank by the borrower to the lender is a

natural, equitable, lawful remuneration, the just price of a real

service, we may conclude that, as a general rule, it is in the nature of

capital to produce interest. When this capital, as in the foregoing

examples, takes the form of an instrument of labor, it is clear enough

that it ought to bring an advantage to its possessor, to him who has

devoted to it his time, his brains, and his strength. Otherwise, why

should he have made it? No necessity of life can be immediately

satisfied with instruments of labor; no one eats planes or drinks saws,

except, indeed, he be a conjurer. If a man determines to spend his time

in the production of such things, he must have been led to it by the

consideration of the power which these instruments add to his power; of

the time which they save him; of the perfection and rapidity which they

give to his labor; in a word, of the advantages which they procure for

him. Now, these advantages, which have been prepared by labor, by the

sacrifice of time which might have been used in a more immediate manner,

are we bound, as soon as they are ready to be enjoyed, to confer them

gratuitously upon another? Would it be an advance in social order, if

the law decided thus, and citizens should pay officials for causing such

a law to be executed by force? I venture to say, that there is not one

amongst you who would support it. It would be to legalize, to organize,

to systematize injustice itself, for it would be proclaiming that there

are men born to render, and others born to receive, gratuitous services.

Granted, then, that interest is just, natural, and lawful.

2nd. A second consequence, not less remarkable than the former, and, if

possible, still more conclusive, to which I call your attention, is

this: interest is not injurious to the borrower. I mean to say, the

obligation in which the borrower finds himself, to pay a remuneration

for the use of capital, cannot do any harm to his condition. Observe, in

fact, that James and William are perfectly free, as regards the

transaction to which the plane gave occasion. The transaction cannot be

accomplished without the consent of the one as well as of the other. The

worst which can happen is, that James may be too exacting; and in this

case, William, refusing the loan, remains as he was before. By the fact

of his agreeing to borrow, he proves that he considers it an advantage

to himself; he proves, that after every calculation, including the

remuneration, whatever it may be, required of him, he still finds it

more profitable to borrow than not to borrow. He only determines to do

so because he has compared the inconveniences with the advantages. He

has calculated that the day on which he returns the plane, accompanied

by the remuneration agreed upon, he will have effected more work, with

the same labor, thanks to this tool. A profit will remain to him,

otherwise he would not have borrowed. The two services of which we are

speaking are exchanged according to the law which governs all exchanges,

the law of supply and demand. The claims of James have a natural and

impassable limit. This is the point in which the remuneration demanded

by him would absorb all the advantage which William might find in making

use of a plane. In this case, the borrowing would not take place.

William would be bound either to make a plane for himself, or to do

without one, which would leave him in his original condition. He

borrows, because he gains by borrowing. I know very well what will be

told me. You will say, William may be deceived, or, perhaps, he may be

governed by necessity, and be obliged to submit to a harsh law.

It may be so. As to errors in calculation, they belong to the infirmity

of our nature, and to argue from this against the transaction in

question, is objecting the possibility of loss in all imaginable

transactions, in every human act. Error is an accidental fact, which is

incessantly remedied by experience. In short, everybody must guard

against it. As far as those hard necessities are concerned, which force

persons to burdensome borrowings, it is clear that these necessities

exist previously to the borrowing. If William is in a situation in which

he cannot possibly do without a plane, and must borrow one at any price,

does this situation result from James having taken the trouble to make

the tool? Does it not exist independently of this circumstance? However

harsh, however severe James may be, he will never render the supposed

condition of William worse than it is. Morally, it is true, the lender

will be to blame; but, in an economical point of view, the loan itself

can never be considered responsible for previous necessities, which it

has not created, and which it relieves, to a certain extent.

But this proves something to which I shall return. The evident interests

of William, representing here the borrowers, there are many Jameses and

planes. In other words, lenders and capitals. It is very evident, that

if William can say to James--Your demands are exorbitant; there is no

lack of planes in the world; he will be in a better situation than if

James' plane was the only one to be borrowed. Assuredly, there is no

maxim more true than this--service for service. But let us not forget,

that no service has a fixed and absolute value, compared with others.

The contracting parties are free. Each carries his requisitions to the

farthest possible point; and the most favorable circumstance for these

requisitions is the absence of rivalship. Hence it follows, that if

there is a class of men more interested than any other, in the

formation, multiplication, and abundance of capitals, it is mainly that

of the borrowers. Now, since capitals can only be formed and increased

by the stimulus and the prospect of remuneration, let this class

understand the injury they are inflicting on themselves, when they deny

the lawfulness of interest, when they proclaim that credit should be

gratuitous, when they declaim against the pretended tyranny of capital,

when they discourage saving, thus forcing capitals to become scarce, and

consequently interests to rise.

3rd. The anecdote I have just related enables you to explain this

apparently singular phenomenon, which is termed the duration or

perpetuity of interest. Since, in lending his plane, James has been

able, very lawfully, to make it a condition, that it should be returned

to him, at the end of a year, in the same state in which it was when he

lent it, is it not evident that he may, at the expiration of the term,

lend it again on the same conditions. If he resolves upon the latter

plan, the plane will return to him at the end of every year, and that

without end. James will then be in a condition to lend it without end;

that is, he may derive from it a perpetual interest. It will be said,

that the plane will be worn out. That is true; but it will be worn out

by the hand and for the profit of the borrower. The latter has taken

into account this gradual wear, and taken upon himself, as he ought, the

consequences. He has reckoned that he shall derive from this tool an

advantage, which will allow him to restore it in its original condition,

after having realized a profit from it. As long as James does not use

this capital himself, or for his own advantage--as long as he renounces

the advantages which allow it to be restored to its original

condition--he will have an incontestable right to have it restored, and

that independently of interest.

Observe, besides, that if, as I believe I have shown, James, far from

doing any harm to William, has done him a service in lending him his

plane for a year; for the same reason, he will do no harm to a second, a

third, a fourth borrower, in the subsequent periods. Hence you may

understand, that the interest of a capital is as natural, as lawful, as

useful, in the thousandth year, as in the first. We may go still

further. It may happen, that James lends more than a single plane. It is

possible, that by means of working, of saving, of privations, of order,

of activity, he may come to lend a multitude of planes and saws; that is

to say, to do a multitude of services. I insist upon this point--that if

the first loan has been a social good, it will be the same with all the

others; for they are all similar, and based upon the same principle. It

may happen, then, that the amount of all the remunerations received by

our honest operative, in exchange for services rendered by him, may

suffice to maintain him. In this case, there will be a man in the world

who has a right to live without working. I do not say that he would be

doing right to give himself up to idleness--but I say, that he has a

right to do so; and if he does so, it will be at nobody's expense, but

quite the contrary. If society at all understands the nature of things,

it will acknowledge that this man subsists on services which he receives

certainly (as we all do), but which he lawfully receives in exchange for

other services, which he himself has rendered, that he continues to

render, and which are quite real, inasmuch as they are freely and

voluntarily accepted.

And here we have a glimpse of one of the finest harmonies in the social

world. I allude to leisure: not that leisure that the warlike and

tyrannical classes arrange for themselves by the plunder of the workers,

but that leisure which is the lawful and innocent fruit of past activity

and economy. In expressing myself thus, I know that I shall shock many

received ideas. But see! Is not leisure an essential spring in the

social machine? Without it, the world would never have had a Newton, a

Pascal, a Fenelon; mankind would have been ignorant of all arts,

sciences, and of those wonderful inventions, prepared originally by

investigations of mere curiosity; thought would have been inert--man

would have made no progress. On the other hand, if leisure could only be

explained by plunder and oppression--if it were a benefit which could

only be enjoyed unjustly, and at the expense of others, there would be

no middle path between these two evils; either mankind would be reduced

to the necessity of stagnating in a vegetable and stationary life, in

eternal ignorance, from the absence of wheels to its machine--or else it

would have to acquire these wheels at the price of inevitable injustice,

and would necessarily present the sad spectacle, in one form or other,

of the antique classification of human beings into Masters and Slaves. I

defy any one to show me, in this case, any other alternative. We should

be compelled to contemplate the Divine plan which governs society, with

the regret of thinking that it presents a deplorable chasm. The stimulus

of progress would be forgotten, or, which is worse, this stimulus would

be no other than injustice itself. But, no! God has not left such a

chasm in his work of love. We must take care not to disregard his

wisdom and power; for those whose imperfect meditations cannot explain

the lawfulness of leisure, are very much like the astronomer who said,

at a certain point in the heavens there ought to exist a planet which

will be at last discovered, for without it the celestial world is not

harmony, but discord.

Well, I say that, if well understood, the history of my humble plane,

although very modest, is sufficient to raise us to the contemplation of

one of the most consoling, but least understood, of the social


It is not true that we must choose between the denial or the

unlawfulness of leisure; thanks to rent and its natural duration,

leisure may arise from labor and saving. It is a pleasing prospect,

which every one may have in view; a noble recompense, to which each may

aspire. It makes its appearance in the world; it distributes itself

proportionably to the exercise of certain virtues; it opens all the

avenues to intelligence; it ennobles, it raises the morals; it

spiritualizes the soul of humanity, not only without laying any weight

on those of our brethren whose lot in life devotes them to severe labor,

but relieving them gradually from the heaviest and most repugnant part

of this labor. It is enough that capitals should be formed, accumulated,

multiplied; should be lent on conditions less and less burdensome; that

they should descend, penetrate into every social circle, and that, by an

admirable progression, after having liberated the lenders, they should

hasten the liberation of the borrowers themselves. For that end, the

laws and customs ought to be favorable to economy, the source of

capital. It is enough to say, that the first of all these conditions is,

not to alarm, to attack, to deny that which is the stimulus of saving

and the reason of its existence--interest.

As long as we see nothing passing from hand to hand, in the character of

loan, but provisions, materials, instruments, things indispensable

to the productiveness of labor itself, the ideas thus far exhibited will

not find many opponents. Who knows, even, that I may not be reproached

for having made great effort to burst what may be said to be an open

door. But as soon as cash makes its appearance as the subject of the

transaction (and it is this which appears almost always), immediately a

crowd of objections are raised. Money, it will be said, will not

reproduce itself, like your sack of corn; it does not assist labor,

like your plane; it does not afford an immediate satisfaction, like

your house. It is incapable, by its nature, of producing interest, of

multiplying itself, and the remuneration it demands is a positive


Who cannot see the sophistry of this? Who does not see that cash is

only a transient form, which men give at the time to other values, to

real objects of usefulness, for the sole object of facilitating their

arrangements? In the midst of social complications, the man who is in a

condition to lend, scarcely ever has the exact thing which the borrower

wants. James, it is true, has a plane; but, perhaps, William wants a

saw. They cannot negotiate; the transaction favorable to both cannot

take place, and then what happens? It happens that James first exchanges

his plane for money; he lends the money to William, and William

exchanges the money for a saw. The transaction is no longer a simple

one; it is decomposed into two parts, as I explained above in speaking

of exchange. But, for all that, it has not changed its nature; it still

contains all the elements of a direct loan. James has still got rid of a

tool which was useful to him; William has still received an instrument

which perfects his work and increases his profits; there is still a

service rendered by the lender, which entitles him to receive an

equivalent service from the borrower; this just balance is not the less

established by free mutual bargaining. The very natural obligation to

restore at the end of the term the entire value, still constitutes the

principle of the duration of interest.

At the end of a year, says M. Thore, will you find an additional crown

in a bag of a hundred pounds?

No, certainly, if the borrower puts the bag of one hundred pounds on the

shelf. In such a case, neither the plane, nor the sack of corn, would

reproduce themselves. But it is not for the sake of leaving the money in

the bag, nor the plane on the hook, that they are borrowed. The plane is

borrowed to be used, or the money to procure a plane. And if it is

clearly proved that this tool enables the borrower to obtain profits

which he would not have made without it, if it is proved that the lender

has renounced creating for himself this excess of profits, we may

understand how the stipulation of a part of this excess of profits in

favor of the lender, is equitable and lawful.

Ignorance of the true part which cash plays in human transactions, is

the source of the most fatal errors. I intend devoting an entire

pamphlet to this subject. From what we may infer from the writings of M.

Proudhon, that which has led him to think that gratuitous credit was a

logical and definite consequence of social progress, is the observation

of the phenomenon which shows a decreasing interest, almost in direct

proportion to the rate of civilization. In barbarous times it is, in

fact, cent. per cent., and more. Then it descends to eighty, sixty,

fifty, forty, twenty, ten, eight, five, four, and three per cent. In

Holland, it has even been as low as two per cent. Hence it is concluded,

that in proportion as society comes to perfection, it will descend to

zero by the time civilization is complete. In other words, that which

characterizes social perfection is the gratuitousness of credit. When,

therefore, we shall have abolished interest, we shall have reached the

last step of progress. This is mere sophistry, and as such false

arguing may contribute to render popular the unjust, dangerous, and

destructive dogma, that credit should be gratuitous, by representing it

as coincident with social perfection, with the reader's permission I

will examine in a few words this new view of the question.

What is interest? It is the service rendered, after a free bargain, by

the borrower to the lender, in remuneration for the service he has

received by the loan. By what law is the rate of these remunerative

services established? By the general law which regulates the equivalent

of all services; that is, by the law of supply and demand.

The more easily a thing is procured, the smaller is the service rendered

by yielding it or lending it. The man who gives me a glass of water in

the Pyrenees, does not render me so great a service as he who allows me

one in the desert of Sahara. If there are many planes, sacks of corn, or

houses, in a country, the use of them is obtained, other things being

equal, on more favorable conditions than if they were few; for the

simple reason, that the lender renders in this case a smaller relative


It is not surprising, therefore, that the more abundant capitals are,

the lower is the interest.

Is this saying that it will ever reach zero? No; because, I repeat it,

the principle of a remuneration is in the loan. To say that interest

will be annihilated, is to say that there will never be any motive for

saving, for denying ourselves, in order to form new capitals, nor even

to preserve the old ones. In this case, the waste would immediately

bring a void, and interest would directly reappear.

In that, the nature of the services of which we are speaking does not

differ from any other. Thanks to industrial progress, a pair of

stockings, which used to be worth six francs, has successively been

worth only four, three, and two. No one can say to what point this value

will descend; but we can affirm, that it will never reach zero, unless

the stockings finish by producing themselves spontaneously. Why? Because

the principle of remuneration is in labor; because he who works for

another renders a service, and ought to receive a service. If no one

paid for stockings, they would cease to be made; and, with the scarcity,

the price would not fail to reappear.

The sophism which I am now combating has its root in the infinite

divisibility which belongs to value, as it does to matter.

It appears, at first, paradoxical, but it is well known to all

mathematicians, that, through all eternity, fractions may be taken from

a weight without the weight ever being annihilated. It is sufficient

that each successive fraction be less than the preceding one, in a

determined and regular proportion.

There are countries where people apply themselves to increasing the size

of horses, or diminishing in sheep the size of the head. It is

impossible to say precisely to what point they will arrive in this. No

one can say that he has seen the largest horse or the smallest sheep's

head that will ever appear in the world. But he may safely say that the

size of horses will never attain to infinity, nor the heads of sheep to


In the same way, no one can say to what point the price of stockings nor

the interest of capitals will come down; but we may safely affirm, when

we know the nature of things, that neither the one nor the other will

ever arrive at zero, for labor and capital can no more live without

recompense than a sheep without a head.

The arguments of M. Proudhon reduce themselves, then, to this: since the

most skillful agriculturists are those who have reduced the heads of

sheep to the smallest size, we shall have arrived at the highest

agricultural perfection when sheep have no longer any heads. Therefore,

in order to realize the perfection, let us behead them.

I have now done with this wearisome discussion. Why is it that the

breath of false doctrine has made it needful to examine into the

intimate nature of interest? I must not leave off without remarking upon

a beautiful moral which may be drawn from this law: The depression of

interest is proportioned to the abundance of capitals. This law being

granted, if there is a class of men to whom it is more important than to

any other that capitals be formed, accumulate, multiply, abound, and

superabound, it is certainly the class which borrows them directly or

indirectly; it is those men who operate upon materials, who gain

assistance by instruments, who live upon provisions, produced and

economized by other men.

Imagine, in a vast and fertile country, a population of a thousand

inhabitants, destitute of all capital thus defined. It will assuredly

perish by the pangs of hunger. Let us suppose a case hardly less cruel.

Let us suppose that ten of these savages are provided with instruments

and provisions sufficient to work and to live themselves until harvest

time, as well as to remunerate the services of eighty laborers. The

inevitable result will be the death of nine hundred human beings. It is

clear, then, that since nine hundred and ninety men, urged by want, will

crowd upon the supports which would only maintain a hundred, the ten

capitalists will be masters of the market. They will obtain labor on

the hardest conditions, for they will put it up to auction, or the

highest bidder. And observe this--if these capitalists entertain such

pious sentiments as would induce them to impose personal privations on

themselves, in order to diminish the sufferings of some of their

brethren, this generosity, which attaches to morality, will be as noble

in its principle as useful in its effects. But if, duped by that false

philosophy which persons wish so inconsiderately to mingle with economic

laws, they take to remunerating labor largely, far from doing good, they

will do harm. They will give double wages, it may be. But then,

forty-five men will be better provided for, whilst forty-five others

will come to augment the number of those who are sinking into the grave.

Upon this supposition, it is not the lowering of wages which is the

mischief, it is the scarcity of capital. Low wages are not the cause,

but the effect of the evil. I may add, that they are to a certain extent

the remedy. It acts in this way; it distributes the burden of suffering

as much as it can, and saves as many lives as a limited quantity of

sustenance permits.

Suppose now, that instead of ten capitalists, there should be a hundred,

two hundred, five hundred--is it not evident that the condition of the

whole population, and, above all, that of the proletaires,[18] will be

more and more improved? Is it not evident that, apart from every

consideration of generosity, they would obtain more work and better pay

for it?--that they themselves will be in a better condition to form

capitals, without being able to fix the limits to this ever-increasing

facility of realizing equality and well-being? Would it not be madness

in them to admit such doctrines, and to act in a way which would drain

the source of wages, and paralyze the activity and stimulus of saving?

Let them learn this lesson, then; doubtless, capitals are good for those

who possess them: who denies it? But they are also useful to those who

have not yet been able to form them; and it is important to those who

have them not, that others should have them.

[Footnote 18: Common people.]

Yes, if the proletaires knew their true interests, they would seek,

with the greatest care, what circumstances are, and what are not

favorable to saving, in order to favor the former and to discourage the

latter. They would sympathize with every measure which tends to the

rapid formation of capitals. They would be enthusiastic promoters of

peace, liberty, order, security, the union of classes and peoples,

economy, moderation in public expenses, simplicity in the machinery of

Government; for it is under the sway of all these circumstances that

saving does its work, brings plenty within the reach of the masses,

invites those persons to become the formers of capital who were

formerly under the necessity of borrowing upon hard conditions. They

would repel with energy the warlike spirit, which diverts from its true

course so large a part of human labor; the monopolizing spirit, which

deranges the equitable distribution of riches, in the way by which

liberty alone can realize it; the multitude of public services, which

attack our purses only to check our liberty; and, in short, those

subversive, hateful, thoughtless doctrines, which alarm capital, prevent

its formation, oblige it to flee, and finally to raise its price, to the

special disadvantage of the workers, who bring it into operation. Well,

and in this respect is not the revolution of February a hard lesson? Is

it not evident, that the insecurity it has thrown into the world of

business, on the one hand; and, on the other, the advancement of the

fatal theories to which I have alluded, and which, from the clubs, have

almost penetrated into the regions of the Legislature, have everywhere

raised the rate of interest? Is it not evident, that from that time the

proletaires have found greater difficulty in procuring those

materials, instruments, and provisions, without which labor is

impossible? Is it not that which has caused stoppages; and do not

stoppages, in their turn, lower wages? Thus there is a deficiency of

labor to the proletaires, from the same cause which loads the objects

they consume with an increase of price, in consequence of the rise of

interest. High interest, low wages, means in other words that the same

article preserves its price, but that the part of the capitalist has

invaded, without profiting himself, that of the workman.

A friend of mine, commissioned to make inquiry into Parisian industry,

has assured me that the manufacturers have revealed to him a very

striking fact, which proves, better than any reasoning can, how much

insecurity and uncertainty injure the formation of capital. It was

remarked, that during the most distressing period, the popular expenses

of mere fancy had not diminished. The small theaters, the fighting

lists, the public houses, and tobacco depots, were as much frequented as

in prosperous times. In the inquiry, the operatives themselves explained

this phenomenon thus: What is the use of pinching? Who knows what will

happen to us? Who knows that interest will not be abolished? Who knows

but that the State will become a universal and gratuitous lender, and

that it will wish to annihilate all the fruits which we might expect

from our savings? Well! I say, that if such ideas could prevail during

two single years, it would be enough to turn our beautiful France into a

Turkey--misery would become general and endemic, and, most assuredly,

the poor would be the first upon whom it would fall.

Workmen! They talk to you a great deal upon the artificial

organization of labor;--do you know why they do so? Because they are

ignorant of the laws of its natural organization; that is, of the

wonderful organization which results from liberty. You are told, that

liberty gives rise to what is called the radical antagonism of classes;

that it creates, and makes to clash, two opposite interests--that of the

capitalists and that of the proletaires. But we ought to begin by

proving that this antagonism exists by a law of nature; and afterwards

it would remain to be shown how far the arrangements of restraint are

superior to those of liberty, for between liberty and restraint I see no

middle path. Again, it would remain to be proved, that restraint would

always operate to your advantage, and to the prejudice of the rich. But,

no; this radical antagonism, this natural opposition of interests, does

not exist. It is only an evil dream of perverted and intoxicated

imaginations. No; a plan so defective has not proceeded from the Divine

Mind. To affirm it, we must begin by denying the existence of God. And

see how, by means of social laws, and because men exchange amongst

themselves their labors, and their productions, see what a harmonious

tie attaches the classes, one to the other! There are the landowners;

what is their interest? That the soil be fertile, and the sun

beneficent: and what is the result? That corn abounds, that it falls in

price, and the advantage turns to the profit of those who have had no

patrimony. There are the manufacturers; what is their constant thought?

To perfect their labor, to increase the power of their machines, to

procure for themselves, upon the best terms, the raw material. And to

what does all this tend? To the abundance and low price of produce; that

is, that all the efforts of the manufacturers, and without their

suspecting it, result in a profit to the public consumer, of which each

of you is one. It is the same with every profession. Well, the

capitalists are not exempt from this law. They are very busy making

schemes, economizing, and turning them to their advantage. This is all

very well; but the more they succeed, the more do they promote the

abundance of capital, and, as a necessary consequence, the reduction of

interest? Now, who is it that profits by the reduction of interest? Is

it not the borrower first, and finally, the consumers of the things

which the capitals contribute to produce?

It is, therefore, certain that the final result of the efforts of each

class, is the common good of all.

You are told that capital tyrannizes over labor. I do not deny that each

one endeavors to draw the greatest possible advantage from his

situation; but, in this sense, he realizes only that which is possible.

Now, it is never more possible for capitals to tyrannize over labor,

than when they are scarce; for then it is they who make the law--it is

they who regulate the rate of sale. Never is this tyranny more

impossible to them, than when they are abundant; for, in that case, it

is labor which has the command.

Away, then, with the jealousies of classes, ill-will, unfounded hatreds,

unjust suspicions. These depraved passions injure those who nourish them

in their hearts. This is no declamatory morality; it is a chain of

causes and effects, which is capable of being rigorously, mathematically

demonstrated. It is not the less sublime, in that it satisfies the

intellect as well as the feelings.

I shall sum up this whole dissertation with these words: Workmen,

laborers, proletaires, destitute and suffering classes, will you

improve your condition? You will not succeed by strife, insurrection,

hatred, and error. But there are three things which cannot perfect the

entire community without extending these benefits to yourselves; these

things are--peace, liberty, and security.