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liberty ; for the progress of sciences and literature; for the improvement of the arts, the diffusion of knowledge, and the immense advantages of general 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 if 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 arnong 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 the 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 wealth, and every
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 sometimes it is only equivalent to the wages 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 perceived. 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 burt hen 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 due 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, and perhaps impair their strength; but this fear is imaginary.
All salaries, when paid freely and voluntarily, are the price of a service requested and received by him who pays for that service ; whether the service be necessary, useful, or agreeable, is of little consequence; so long as it is demanded, its price is re-produced by more labour, and a greater re-production. Unless a nation ruin itself by its diversions (which is improbable,) it necessarily creates all the produce that is to pay for the pleasures which it voluntarily provides for itself. It is even to the necessity of raising its produce to the level of such salaries that general labour is indebted for its progress, society for its prosperity, and private and public wealth for its indefinite extension.
Far from restraining the developement of the labours calculated for amusement, they ought to be favoured, encouraged, rewarded; because this is the only way of giving them the greatest intensity, of increasing the population of the country, carrying wealth to the highest pitch, and attaining the highest degree of power to which civilized societies can arrive. It is a delusion to suppose that labours, calculated to amuse, ought only to be maintained by the surplus of other labours; they would not exist, if they were to wait for that tardy and uncertain event; they ought to precede, to produce this surplus, and use it to re-produce it and increase its force. Useful labours would stop at the produce necessary for their support, if they were not stimulated by amusements; and it is only by striving to obtain that surplus of labour to
which amusements give birth, that nations can arrive at opulence.
Let it not be supposed, however, that all amusements indiscriminately have the effect of stimulating productive labours and obtaining a larger produce. They have this effect only when they are paid freely and voluntarily; the re-production of its price is the absolute condition of the free and voluntary request of the service. When labours are paid by constraint, it is to be apprehended that their forced wages will not be re-produced ; that they are taken from the produce necessary for the support of the labours by which they are paid; that these labours will suffer from a limited supply of their wants; that production is diminished in proportion to their privations; and that wealth attacked in its source will be rapidly exhausted.
Except this case, which deserves a peculiar attention, the price paid for amusements by productive labour, is the creator of wealth, and can alone insure its indefinite progression.
The French economists were evidently mistaken, when they thought that agricultural labours ought to be encouraged and amusements restricted ; and that nations are more or less provided with the conveniencies and necessaries of life according as the number of those who are employed in useful labour is proportioned to that of those who are not so employed. The labours calculated to amuse are productive like useful labours, and the produce of general labour is always in the compound ratio of both. None therefore ought to be excluded or preferred; they ought all to be encouraged.