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that case rise one-fifth, or it takes one-fifth of commodities or money less to pay for labour.
It is therefore evident, that as commodities and money are invariable and labour variable, it is the value of labour that varies, and not the value of commodities and money. Consequently the value of labour varies like that of all other values, and labour is no more than any of them entitled to be considered as a general measure of value. *
Seduced by the opinion that objects have a real value independent of their being exchanged, of which value labour is the accurate measure, Adam Smith has successively extended this attribute to money in some cases, and corn in others, and thought, that wages of labour, money, and corn, are capable of preserving values more or less intact in the midst of the changes, alterations, or modifications occasioned by time in all things. He says: “Stipulations to be paid in corn, in cases of long leases, reserved perpetual rents, and contracts of extensive and as it were unlimited duration, keep their value better than if the payments are stipulated to be in money ;” and he supports his opinion by the experience of the last centuries. But I do not think it better founded on that account.
* But it is on the ground of labour, or the produce of previous labour, being the only legal way of arriving at the possession of things of value, that labour may in some degree be considered as a general measure of exchangeable value, or as a standard by which the exchangeable value of all commodities may be determined. Boileau's Introduction to the Study of Political Economy, book i. chap. 8, pages 62, 63.
When a proprietor quits his property against a reserved perpetual rent, or when he grants a long lease to a farmer against a fixed rent, he neither regards the real value of his property, as it has no such value, nor the value he is to enjoy at a future time, which is unknown. By what rule then does he fix the perpetual reserved rent, or the rent of a long lease ? Simply by the exchangeable value of his property at the time it is sold or taken in farm upon a long lease, and by the opinion he has of the events by which its value may be modified during the duration of the reserved rent or of the long lease. He enters rather into a gambling contract than a contract grounded upon equivalents. His efforts to balance, by the nature of the reserved rent or of the rent to be paid by his farmer, the risks which he runs, must always prove nugatory; because the obscurity in which futurity is involved is an impenetrable cloud to his interested views.
This profound obscurity can derive no light from the experience of the last centuries. The circumstance that feudal, perpetual, or quit-rents, stipulated to be paid in corn in the fifteenth century, have better kept their value than those that were stipulated to be paid in money, can afford no rule of conduct for the future. The fact is owing to a particular event; which probably will not occur again, and from which no general and universal principle can of course be inferred.
Ever'since social order has been consolidated, and since the mercantile system exercises a salutary influence over the political system, money has experienced
greater variations than corn, because commerce and industry have introduced a quantity of money superior to the quantity of corn with which agriculture has been able to furnish commerce; and particularly because money, by being abundantly diffused among all the classes of the people, has conferred a greater exchangeable value upon corn ; stipulations to be paid in corp must therefore have become more advantageous than stipulations to be paid in money. · But, if the military system had prevailed and con centrated all the precious metals in the metropolis and among a small number of individuals, would not the contrary have happened, and would not those stipu. lations to be paid in money, which are so detrimental to proprietors and creditors, and so profitable to farmers and debtors, have proved ruinous to the latter and favourable to the former. The stipulations to be paid in corn would have afforded results similar to those arising from stipulations to be paid in money.
Let us therefore conclude, that men are deluding themselves when they imagine they can subject futufity to steady and permanent laws, and imprint on their power, which is limited and circumscribed by the fluctuation of events, the immensity and imnobi. lity of eternity. Whatever efforts we may make, we shall never be able to extend ourdominion beyond the present moment, or to give, during this short space of time, a fixed and steady value to things. That value is subject to the laws of exchanges, and to the proportion of the demand to the abundance or scarcity, which is always fluctuating, and which cannot be fixed nor subjected to steady and permanent rules.
We must however acknowledge with Adam Smith, that this perpetually fluctuating value of things tends to being fixed, since it always gives the producers the equivalent of what their production has cost. Else productions that do not obtain this equivalent, this just return, would no longer be reproduced, or they would be reproduced only in a proportion calculated to re-establish the equilibrium of their exchangeable value. Thus a natural proportion is, as it were, established between the different productions of man's labour ; none has a lasting and permanent preponderance over the other, but up to what it has cost. Beyond this all are measured, not by their real, but by their relative value ; not by their cost price, but by what they are worth. So that it is the exchangeable value which ultimately gives to every producer the equivalent of what his commodity cost to produce, and consequently secures the producers against loss.
But does not this exchangeable value, afford to some producers profits superior to those which it gives to others; and are commercial exchanges to be continued, and circulation to be maintained in its activity, in that case ?
In spite of the tendency of exchangeable value to insure to every producer the equivalent of what his production has cost, it yet cannot be denied that, when exchangeable value has reached this point, it is liable to vary and to grant to some producers advantages which it denies to others. Suppose a farmer expends, either in wages, interest of capital, or rent, one hundred pounds sterling, to grow fifty quarters of corn; whilst a manufacturer of woollen cloth expends only
seventy-five pounds to manufacture one hundred yards of cloth, the exchangeable value of which is one hundred pounds ; it is obvious that the farmer, if he obtain only one hundred pounds for his fifty quarters of corn, is less benefited by a fourth or fiveand-twenty pounds, than the manufacturer; and that, as long as their respective situation is the same, the wealth of the manufacturer is progressive, and that of the farmer stationary.
· Adam Smith observes, that the superiority of certain labours and employments of capital over other labours and employments of capital cannot be of long duration, because those which are least favoured go over to the most favoured ones, and by their competition re-establish, if not a perfect equality, at least a certain proportion between the profits of all labours and employments of capital.
This is, no doubt, the case when the exchangeable value does no longer afford to a labour or employment of capital, the equivalent of what its production has cost; because, in that instance, the smallness of the equivalent informs the producer of his loss : but it is difficult to conceive how this can happen, when the equivalent covers all the expences of the producer, when nothing informs him that what he has obtained as an equivalent has not cost so much to produce as his production. I am even convinced that it never happens in common life, and that among all labourers and employers of capital, there are not two classes, or perhaps not two individuals, capable of discovering which labours and which employments of capital yield