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The various systems of political economy, thus ana-
and frequently the measure of private regard, of social distinctions, and of the absolute and relative power of empires. As wealth, among the people of antiquity and the middle age, was wrested from weakness by force, from slaves by their masters, from the vanquished by their conquerors, from a large number of subjugated nations by a domineering people ; as it was concentrated in one metropolis, and became the exclusive patrimony of some privileged families, it proved the direct and immediate cause of the troubles and disorders which successively agitated the domineering people, of the revolutions which shook their empire, and of the convulsions which occasioned their decline and fall. The innumerable calamities with which wealth was pregnant, have not escaped the attention of ancient and modern moralists and politicians, and inspired them with violent prepossessions against it. They imputed to wealth every vice, every evil, every crime, in which it had shared; and even went so far as to suppose it incompatible with good morals, with the stability of empires and the prosperity of nations.
But the history of modern wealth, far from confirming this severe judgment, has refuted its errors and dissipated its illusions. Created by general labour, modern wealth has been as productive of prosperity as that of antiquity and the middle age had been productive of misfortunes, crimes, and misery. Modern empires are all indebted to wealth for their independence ; for the security of their governments ; for the stability of the civil power, that guardian angel of individual safety, private prosperity, and public
liberty; for the progress of sciences and literature; for the improvement of the arts, the diffusion of knowledge, and the immense advantages of geueral civilization,
Undoubtedly, such benefits have not been obtained nor continued for the space of three centuries without some inconveniency, and without a mixture of errors, abuses, and excesses. Every thing is abused : but is such be the condition of the human race, that they may only pretend to the least unfortunate existence, it must be confessed that the economical system, which derives wealth from general labour ; which, through private and individual labour, circulates that wealth among all the individuals and classes of the community ; which, through commerce, extends its circulation to all nations, and makes it the basis of their mutual prosperity and relative power, is much more favourable to the developement of all faculties, all talents, all virtues, all social combinations, and foreign relations, than that which sought for wealth in violence and oppression, and in the misery of mankind; and it is through an obvious mistake that the two sorts of wealth are assimilated, and accused of tlie same effects and the same calamities.
According to the economical system of modern nations, wealth consists in the surplus of the produce of the annual labour above the annual consumption ; and nations cannot grow wealthy but by a great application to labour and an extreme attention to economy in consumption. Labour and economy are the true supports of modern wealth.
Labour creates the elements of sealth, and everv
species of labour is eminently possessed of this faculty : but productiveness is neither the same nor alike in every kind of labour, and does not always proceed alike in its developements.
Sometimes it requires but the efforts of a single species of labour ; sometimes it employs the concurrence of several kinds; at others, it acts only through the moral influence of one sort of labour upon the other. Sometimes the produce of labour exceeds the wants of the labourers, and sometines it is onis equivalent to the rages necessary for their support. Amidst that variety of forms and proceedings under which the productive faculty of labour displays and conceals itself, it has not always been distinctly per- . ceived. Its tract has sometimes been lost, and it has been excluded from certain labours, or attributed to others under certain restrictions. The doctrine of productive and unproductive labour has made much noise, fills a large space in the history of political economy, and counts still some partisans; but the progress of the science has stripped it of all its importance.
Any labour, whatever it may be, contributes physically or morally to production; it produces, or causes other labours to produce, more than they would have done without its concurrence, or without its influence, and in either of these respects it co-operates alike in general production. An unproductive labour could not exist, or could only enjoy a precarious existence. Every one would be eager to shake off a burthen borne with reluctance. But labours that are not imme
diately and directly productive, must not be confounded with barren and unproductive labours.
Labours that are not productive in themselves, but through their concurrence with another labour, are as productive as the labour with which they concur. It would, indeed, be difficult to deny productiveness to the labour of the inventor and constructor of a plough, which procures to the husbandman a harvest tenfold of what he would have obtained through his sole manual labour.
The case is the same with labours calculated for our entertainment, which, by the enjoyments they afford to the different classes of labourers, induce them to bestow more attention, application, and care, on their labours, in order to obtain a more considerable produce.
Surely the surplus of produce duc to the two mentioned kinds of labour, that are reputed barren and unproductive, is their work, their property, and constitutes them as productive as the labours to which productiveness is exclusively ascribed. Wealth is only interested in the totality of produce, and not in the manner of producing it; and with regard to wealth, any labour that increases the sum of produce is necessarily productive.
The erroneous doctrine of unproductive labour owes its rise to the fear of impoverishing the productive labours, by their paying wages to other labours. It has been supposed that such wages being taken from the funds destined for their support, might prove prejudicial to the developement of their faculties,