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agricultural labour is built upon the supposition that its produce has a value of its own, while the productions of all other labours have no value but what they obtain by bekig exchanged: but this supposition k evidently repugnant to the mature of things, to reason, and to the fundamental laws of political economy.
Of the agricultural produce, one part is destined to replace that which has been consumed by the husbandman during his labour; this part has no value of its own, real, and independent of all exchange; it is5 as it were, merely the instrument of agriculture destined to supply absolute and indispensable wants; it is not capable of a surplus, and consequently cannot contribute to the formation <*f wealth*
The other part, which is over and above what has been consumed by the husbandman, and which is called the net produce, has no value as long as it remains in the hands of the husbandman. The stock of corn in the granaries of the farmer, of wine in his cellars, of wool, silk, hemp, and iiax, in his magazines, is no wealth for him, if, not being able to consume these commodities, he be likewise unable to find any consumers for them, and if he have no other prospect than to witness their destruction and annihilation by alWevouring time.
It is only when this net produce above the wants of the husbandman departs from him to be consumed by others, that it becomes useful, obtains a value, and forms one of the elements of wealth: but there are only two ways of operating this transmission,—by a free gift, or by a cession against an equivalent.
The former cannot be practised for any lengtt of time, and has never yet contributed to the wealth of any nation. Hospitality among those who are on the lowest steps on the scale of civilization, benevolence among those more civilized, and charity among those whose civilization is heightened by religion, have never been of great assistance to augment the population, wealth, or power of any nation,
The second way, I mean the cession of the net prodqce against an equivalent, consisting cither in a jnaterial produce or in personal services, can alone confer a value upon agricultural labour, and renders it equally useful apd beneficial to private and public wealth: but in that case its value is relative, and, like the value of all other labour, dependent on its being exchanged; it does not differ from, aud is absolutely upon a par with other values. In this general concurrence of values, the productiveness of labour depends neither on the abundance of its produce, nor on its greater or smaller utility, nor on any other particular consideration: it only depends on the laws fyy which exchanges are regulated, which we shall establish hereafter: these alone determine the productiveness, or barrenness of labour; and as scarcely any labour is undertaken unless called for by the prospect of being exchanged, or at least as no l&bour is long continued without such a prospect, we inay conclude with certainty that agricultural labour |& not exclusively productive of wealth.
Is Productiveness peculiar to some or common to all kinds of Labour?
The impression made by a paradox is not always effaced by its being refuted: it subsists some time after its refutation, and may yet mislead the best understandings, Adam Smith, who triumphantly refuted the paradox of the exclusive productiveness of agricultural labour; completely revived it by accusing of unproductiveness any labour which, after it is over, does not fix and realize itself in some permanent object. By denying the productive faeulty to any labour which does not terminate in a material and permanent produce, and by supposing that wealth depends on the numerical proportion between the individuals employed in useful labour* and those who are not usefully employed, he propagated the fallacy which he had so victoriously overthrown.
But I have already shewn, in the preceding chapter, that it is not by the greater or smaller quantity of the produce of divers labours that their relative aiid absolute productiveness can be judged of, but by the facility with which their respective productions cau, be exchanged and by the estimation in which they are held. The facility of being exchanged has no regard either to the quantity, material itv, or permanence of productions; it is determined by other principles, obeys other laws, and follows other rules, which we shall fix hereafter.
* Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Eleventh edition, 180$: yol. i. p. % *
At present, it will be sufficient to observe that a labour, which, after it is over, does not fix and realize itself in any permanent object, may be exchanged for the material productions of other foreign and national labours, just as well as these productions are exchanged for each other.
A foreigner, who consults either an English physician about the state of his health, an English lawyer about his affairs, or an English architect about the plan of a mansion,, and remits five guineas for their opinion, confers upon these divers labours a productiveness equal to any labour whose material produce, on being exchanged with a foreigner, would have brought five guineas, or a commodity worth five guineas, to England. There is in this respect no difference between these various labours; they are all equally productive of the five pieces of gold coin for which they have been exchanged,
Now, whatever happens with a foreigner in the exchange of any labour that gives no material produce, occurs in the exchange of that labour at home. There is no difference between the labour of the joiner who siakes a table which he exchanges for a quarter of wheat, or a sum of money that will purchase a quarter of wheat, and the labour of a fiddler which gains him a quarter of wheat, or a sum of money that will purchase a quarter of wheat. In both cases a quarter of wheat is produced to pay for a table, and a quartet of wheat is produced to pay for the pleasure given by the fiddler.
It is true, that after the quarter of wheat has been consumed by the joiner, there still remains a table; and after the wheat has been consumed by the fiddler, there remains nothing: but the ease is the same with many labours that are reputed productive. Those productions of agricultural labour which only serve to gratify sensuality, and which, far from contributing' to the subsistence of man, often impair his health, are justly considered as the result of productive labour, although there be nothing permanent left after thev are consumed. Consequently, it is not by what remains after consumption that we may judge whether a labour is productive or barren; it is simply bv the production obtained in exchange which it causes to be produced. As the labour of the fiddler is as much the cause of a quarter of wheat being produced, as the labour of the joiner; both labours are equally productive of a quarter of wheat, although one, when it is over, does not fix and realize itself in any permanent object, and the other is fixed and realized in a permanent object.
It is pretty generally supposed, that exchanging productions against labours which give no material produce is an injury done to the productive classes of the community, and impairs by as much their reproductive faculties ; in consequence of which supposition, the French economists wish to increase the number of husbandmen, and to reduce that of the othsr labouring classes, Adam Smith also wishes to reduce the nunu