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What are they going to do with the funds? What percentage will go to cover administration costs? How much will go to research? What impact will it have on the realities of the disease and its sufferers? How will it be measured? The answers to these questions are still unclear. Choosing a recipient organization requires thoughtful consideration and at least a little bit of research. Is this a one-off, or is the Ice Bucket Challenge creating a new donor base?
While famous wealthy philanthropists like Bill Gates participated, many if not most of the ice bucket challengers that we see online are first-time donors. Other trendy campaigns like Movember do a better job at attracting repeat participants, year after year. But who knows? This may just be the experience that triggers first-time givers into further philanthropic involvement in general.
It has another virtue: it relies on social ties and represents a public experience. Yes, dumping water on your head is pretty stupid and yes, many participants indulge their ego in the process. But you cannot deny the amazing collective success of this campaign.
Hopefully, it will challenge other nonprofit organizations to get more creative and light-spirited in their fundraising efforts. Using the power of social networks, we may get much larger portions of the population involved in philanthropy. The institution of slavery he of course recognises and does not disapprove; he even recommends, for the increase of the Attic revenues, the hiring out of slaves by the state for labour in the mines, after branding them to prevent their escape, the number of slaves being constantly increased by fresh purchases out of the gains of the enterprise.
De Vect. Mathematical and astronomical science was largely developed at a later stage, but in the field of social studies no higher point was ever attained by the Greeks than is reached in the writings of this great thinker Both his gifts and his situation eminently favoured him in the treatment of these subjects. He combined in rare measure a capacity for keen observation with generalising power, and sobriety of judgment with ardour for the public good.
All that was original or significant in the political life of Hellas had run its course before his time or under his own eyes, and he had thus a large basis of varied experience on which to ground his conclusions. Standing outside the actual movement of contemporary public life, he occupied the position of thoughful spectator and impartial judge. He could not, indeed, for reasons already stated, any more than other Greek speculators, attain a fully normal attitude in these researches.
Nor could he pass beyond the sphere of what is now called Edition: current; Page:  statical sociology; the idea of laws of the historical development of social phenomena he scarcely apprehended, except in some small degree in relation to the succession of political forms. But there is to be found in his writings a remarkable body of sound and valuable thoughts on the constitution and working of the social organism The special notices of economic subjects are neither so numerous nor so detailed as we should desire.
Like all the Greek thinkers, he recognises but one doctrine of the state, under which ethics, politics proper, and economics take their place as departments, bearing to each other a very close relation, and having indeed their lines of demarcation from each other not very distinctly marked. When wealth comes under consideration, it is studied not as an end in itself, but with a view to the higher elements and ultimate aims of the collective life.
The origin of society he traces, not to economic necessities, but to natural social impulses in the human constitution. The nature of the social union, when thus established, being determined by the partly spontaneous partly systematic combination of diverse activities, he respects the independence of the latter whilst seeking to effect their convergence.
He therefore opposes himself to the suppression of personal freedom and initiative, and the excessive subordination of the individual to the state, and rejects the community of property and wives proposed by Plato for his governing class. The principle of private property he regards as deeply rooted in man, and the evils which are alleged to result from the corresponding social ordinance he thinks ought really to be attributed either to the imperfections of our nature or to the vices of other public institutions.
Community of goods must, in his view, tend to neglect of the common interest and to the disturbance of social harmony. Of the several classes which provide for the different wants of the society, those who are occupied directly with its material needs—the immediate cultivators of the soil, the mechanics and artificers—are excluded from any share in the government of the state, as being without the necessary leisure and cultivation, and apt to be debased by the nature Edition: current; Page:  of their occupations.
In a celebrated passage he propounds a theory of slavery, in which it is based on the universality of the relation between command and obedience, and on the natural division by which the ruling is marked off from the subject race. This view, so shocking to our modern sentiment, is of course not personal to Aristotle; it is simply the theoretic presentation of the facts of Greek life, in which the existence of a body of citizens pursuing the higher culture and devoted to the tasks of war and government was founded on the systematic degradation of a wronged and despised class, excluded from all the higher offices of human beings and sacrificed to the maintenance of a special type of society.
The methods of economic acquisition are divided by Aristotle into two, one of which has for its aim the appropriation of natural products and their application to the material uses of the household; under this head come hunting, fishing, cattle-rearing, and agriculture.
But its development on the great scale, founded on the thirst for enjoyment and the unlimited desire of gain, he condemns as unworthy and corrupting. Though his views on this subject appear to be principally based on moral grounds, there are some indications of his having entertained the erroneous opinion held by the physiocrats of the eighteenth century, that agriculture alone with the kindred arts above joined with it is truly productive, Edition: current; Page:  whilst the other kinds of industry, which either modify the products of nature or distribute them by way of exchange, however convenient and useful they may be, make no addition to the wealth of the community.
He rightly regards money as altogether different from wealth, illustrating the difference by the story of Midas. And he seems to have seen that money, though its use rests on a social convention, must be composed of a material possessing an independent value of its own. That his views on capital were indistinct appears from his famous argument against interest on loans, which is based on the idea that money is barren and cannot produce money.
Like the other Greek social philosophers, Aristotle recommends to the care of Governments the preservation of a due proportion between the extent of the civic territory and its population, and relies on ante-nuptial continence, late marriages, and the prevention or destruction of births for the due limitation of the number of citizens, the insufficiency of the latter being dangerous to the independence and its superabundance to the tranquillity and good order of the state.
The Romans Notwithstanding the eminently practical, realistic, and utilitarian character of the Romans, there was no energetic exercise of their powers in the economic field; they developed no large and many-sided system of production and exchange.
Their historic mission was military and political, and the national energies were mainly devoted to the public service at home and in the field. To agriculture, indeed, much attention was given from the earliest times, and on it was founded the existence of the hardy population which won the first steps in the march to universal dominion.
But in the course of their history the cultivation of the soil by a native yeomanry gave place to the introduction, in great numbers, of slave labourers acquired by their foreign conquests; and for the small properties of the earlier period were substituted the vast estates—the latifundia—which, in Edition: current; Page:  the judgment of Pliny, were the ruin of Italy. Their ideas on these as on other social questions were for the most part borrowed from the Greek thinkers.
Such traces of economic thought as do occur are to be found in 1 the philosophers, 2 the writers de re rustica, and 3 the jurists. It must, however, be admitted that many of the passages in these authors referred to by those who assert the claim of the Romans to a more prominent place in the history of the science often contain only obvious truths or vague generalities.
This sentiment, both in these writers and in the poetry and miscellaneous literature of their times, is accompanied by a half-factitious enthusiasm for agriculture and an exaggerated estimate of country life and of early Roman habits, which are principally, no doubt, to be regarded as a form of protest against existing abuses, and, from this point of view, remind us of the declamations of Rousseau in a not dissimilar age. Edition: current; Page:  But there is little of larger or just thinking on the prevalent economic evils and their proper remedies.
Pliny, still further in the spirit of Rousseau, is of opinion that the introduction of gold as a medium of exchange was a thing to be deplored, and that the age of barter was preferable to that of money. He expresses views on the necessity of preventing the efflux of money similar to those of the modern mercantile school— views which Cicero also, though not so clearly, appears to have entertained.
Cato, Varro, and Columella concern themselves more with the technical precepts of husbandry than with the general conditions of industrial success and social well-being. But the two last named have the great merit of having seen and proclaimed the superior value of free to slave labour, and Columella is convinced that to the use of the latter the decline of the agricultural economy of the Romans was in a great measure to be attributed.
These three writers agree in the belief that it was chiefly by the revival and reform of agriculture that the threatening inroads of moral corruption could be stayed, the old Roman virtues fostered, and the foundations of the commonwealth strengthened. Their attitude is thus similar to that of the French physiocrats invoking the improvement and zealous pursuit of agriculture alike against the material evils and the social degeneracy of their time.
The question of the comparative merits of the large and small systems of cultivation appears to have been much discussed in the old Roman, as in the modern European world; Columella is a decided advocate of the petite culture. The jurists were led by the coincidence which sometimes takes place between their point of view and that of economic science to make certain classifications and establish some more or less refined distinctions which the modern economists have either adopted from them or used independently.
They appear also though this has been disputed, Neri and Carli maintaining the affirmative, Pagnini the negative to have had correct notions of the nature of money as having a value of its own, determined by economic conditions, and incapable of being impressed upon it by convention or arbitrarily Edition: current; Page:  altered by public authority.
But in general we find in these writers, as might be expected, not so much the results of independent thought as documents illustrating the facts of Roman economic life, and the historical policy of the nation with respect to economic subjects.
From the latter point of view they are of much interest; and by the information they supply as to the course of legislation relating to property generally, to sumptuary control, to the restrictions imposed on spendthrifts, to slavery, to the encouragement of population, and the like, they give us much clearer insight than we should otherwise possess into influences long potent in the history of Rome and of the Western world at large.
But, as it is with the more limited field of systematic thought on political economy that we are here occupied, we cannot enter into these subjects. One matter, however, ought to be adverted to, because it was not only repeatedly dealt with by legislation, but is treated more or less fully by all Roman writers of note, namely, the interest on money loans. The rate was fixed by the laws of the Twelve Tables; but lending on interest was afterwards b.
In the legislation of Justinian, rates were sanctioned varying from four to eight per cent, according to the nature of the case, the latter being fixed as the ordinary mercantile rate, whilst compound interest was forbidden.
The Roman theorists, almost without exception, disapprove of lending on interest altogether. Quid hominem occidere? It is not difficult to see how in early states of society the trade of money-lending becomes, and not unjustly, the object of popular odium; but that these writers, at a period when commercial enterprise had made considerable progress, should continue to reprobate it argues very imperfect or confused ideas on the nature and functions of capital.
It is probable that practice took little heed either of these speculative ideas or of legislation on the subject, which experience shows can always be easily evaded. The traffic in money Edition: current; Page:  seems to have gone on all through Roman history, and the rate to have fluctuated according to the condition of the market. Looking back on the history of ancient economic speculation, we see that, as might be anticipated a priori, the results attained in that field by the Greek and Roman writers were very scanty.
This we have already pointed out with respect to their treatment of the subject of population, and the same may be seen in the case of the doctrine of the division of labour, with which Plato and Aristotle are in some degree occupied. They regard that principle as a basis of social classification, or use it in showing that society is founded on a spontaneous co-operation of diverse activities.
From the strictly economic point of view, there are three important propositions which can be enunciated respecting that division:— 1 that its extension within any branch of production makes the products cheaper; 2 that it is limited by the extent of the market; and 3 that it can be carried further in manufactures than in agriculture. But we shall look in vain for these propositions in the ancient writers; the first alone might be inferred from their discussions of the subject. It has been the tendency especially of German scholars to magnify unduly the extent and value of the contributions of antiquity to economic knowledge.
The Greek and Roman authors ought certainly not to be omitted in any account of the evolution of this branch of study. But it must be kept steadily in view that we find in them only first hints or rudiments of general economic truths, and that the science is essentially a modern one. We shall indeed see hereafter that it could not have attained its definitive constitution before our own time. They represent a vast transition, in which the germs of a new world were deposited, but in which little was fully elaborated.
There is scarcely anything in the later movement of European society which we do not find there, though as yet, for the most part, crude and undeveloped. The mediaeval period was the object of contemptuous depreciation on the part of the liberal schools of the last century, principally because it contributed so little to literature.
But there are things more important to mankind than literature; and the great men of the Middle Ages had enough to do in other fields to occupy their utmost energies. The development of the Catholic institutions and the gradual establishment and maintenance of a settled order after the dissolution of the Western empire absorbed the powers of the thinkers and practical men of several centuries.
The first mediaeval phase, from the commencement of the fifth century to the end of the seventh, was occupied with the painful and stormy struggle towards the foundation of the new ecclesiastical and civil system; three more centuries were filled with the work of its consolidation and defence against the assaults of nomad populations; only in the final phase, during the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, when the unity of the West was founded by the collective action against impending Moslem invasion, did it enjoy a sufficiently secure and stable existence to exhibit its essential character and produce its noblest personal types.
The elaboration of feudalism was, indeed, Edition: current; Page:  in progress during the whole period, showing itself in the decomposition of power and the hierarchical subordination of its several grades, the movement being only temporarily suspended in the second phase by the salutary dictatorship of Charlemagne.
But not before the first century of the last phase was the feudal system fully constituted. In like manner, only in the final phase could the effort of Catholicism after a universal discipline be carried out on the great scale— an effort for ever admirable, though necessarily on the whole unsuccessful. No large or varied economic activity was possible under the full ascendency of feudalism.
That organisation, as has been abundantly shown by philosophical historians, was indispensable for the preservation of order and for public defence, and contributed important elements to general civilization. But, whilst recognizing it as opportune and relatively beneficent, we must not expect from it advantages inconsistent with its essential nature and historical office.
The class which predominated in it was not sympathetic with industry, and held the handicrafts in contempt, except those subservient to war or rural sports. The whole practical life of the society was founded on territorial property; the wealth of the lord consisted in the produce of his lands and the dues paid to him in kind; this wealth was spent in supporting a body of retainers whose services were repaid by their maintenance. There could be little room for manufactures, and less for commerce; and agriculture was carried on with a view to the wants of the family, or at most of the immediate neighbourhood, not to those of a wider market.
The economy of the period was therefore simple, and, in the absence of special motors from without, unprogressive. In the latter portion of the Middle Ages several circumstances came into action which greatly modified these conditions. The Crusades undoubtedly produced a powerful economic effect by transferring in many cases the possessions of the feudal chiefs to the industrious classes, whilst by bringing different nations and races into contact, by enlarging Edition: current; Page:  the horizon and widening the conceptions of the populations, as well as by affording a special stimulus to navigation, they tended to give a new activity to international trade.
The independence of the towns and the rising importance of the burgher class supplied a counterpoise to the power of the land aristocracy; and the strength of these new social elements was increased by the corporate constitution given to the urban industries, the police of the towns being also founded on the trade guilds, as that of the country districts was on the feudal relations. The increasing demand of the towns for the products of agriculture gave to the prosecution of that art a more extended and speculative character; and this again led to improved methods of transport and communication.
But the range of commercial enterprise continued everywhere narrow, except in some favoured centres, such as the Italian republics, in which, however, the growth of the normal habits of industrial life was impeded or perverted by military ambition, which was not, in the case of those communities, checked as it was elsewhere by the pressure of an aristocratic class.
Every great change of opinion on the destinies of man and the guiding principles of conduct must react on the sphere of material interests; and the Catholic religion had a powerful influence on the economic life of the Middle Ages. Christianity inculcates, perhaps, no more effectively than the older religions the special economic virtues of industry, thrift, fidelity to engagements, obedience to rightful authority; but it brought out more forcibly and presented more persistently the higher aims of life, and so produced a more elevated way of viewing the different social relations.
It purified domestic life, a reform which has the most important economic results. It taught the doctrine of fundamental human equality, heightened the dignity of labour, and preached with quite a new emphasis the obligations of love, compassion, and forgiveness, and the claims of the poor. The constant presentation to the general mind and conscience of these ideas, the dogmatic bases of which were scarcely as yet assailed by scepticism, must have had a powerful Edition: current; Page:  effect in moralising life.
But to the influence of Christianity as a moral doctrine was added that of the Church as an organization, charged with the application of the doctrine to men's daily transactions. Besides the teachings of the sacred books, there was a mass of ecclesiastical legislation providing specific prescriptions for the conduct of the faithful. And this legislation dealt with the economic as with other provinces of social activity. In the Corpus Juris Canonici, which condenses the result of centuries of study and effort, along with much else is set out what we may call the Catholic economic theory, if we understand by theory, not a reasoned explanation of phenomena, but a body of ideas leading to prescriptions for the guidance of conduct.
Life is here looked at from the point of view of spiritual well-being; the aim is to establish and maintain amongst men a true kingdom of God. In cases of need the public authority is justified in re-establishing pro hac vice the primitive community. The care of the poor is not a matter of free choice; the relief of their necessities is debitum legale Avaritia is idolatry; cupiditas, even when it does not grasp at what is another's, is the root of all evil, and ought to be not merely regulated but eradicated.
He must not conceal the faults of his merchandise, nor take advantage of the need or ignorance of the buyer to obtain from him more than the fair price. Interest on money is forbidden; the Edition: current; Page:  prohibition of usury is, indeed, as Roscher says, the centre of the whole canonistic system of economy, as well as the foundation of a great part of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
The question whether a transaction was or was not usurious turning mainly on the intentions of the parties, the innocence or blameworthiness of dealings in which money was lent became rightfully a subject of determination for the Church, either by her casuists or in her courts. Thus, whilst, with the increase of production, a greater division of labour and a larger employment of borrowed capital naturally followed, the laws on usury tended to hinder this expansion.
Hence they were undermined by various exceptions, or evaded by fictitious transactions. These laws were in fact dictated by, and adapted to, early conditions—to a state of society in which money loans were commonly sought either with a view to wasteful pleasures or for the relief of such urgent distress as ought rather to have been the object of Christian beneficence. But they were quite unsuited to a period in which capital was borrowed for the extension of enterprise and the employment of labour.
The absolute theological spirit in this, as in other instances, could not admit the modification in rules of conduct demanded by a new social situation; and vulgar good sense better understood what were the fundamental conditions of industrial life. When the intellectual activity previously repressed by the more urgent claims of social preoccupations tended to revive towards the close of the mediaeval period, the want of a rational appreciation of the whole of human affairs was felt, and was temporarily met by the adoption of the results of the best Greek speculation.
Hence we find in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas the political and economic doctrines of Aristotle reproduced with a partial infusion of Christian elements. His adherence to his Edition: current; Page:  master's point of view is strikingly shown by the fact that he accepts at least if he is the author of the De Regimine Principum 1 the Aristotelian theory of slavery, though by the action of the forces of his own time the last relics of that institution were being eliminated from European society.
This great change—the enfranchisement of the working classes—was the most important practical outcome of the Middle Ages. The first step in this movement was the transformation of slavery, properly so called, into serfdom. The latter was, by its nature, a transitory condition.
The serf was bound to the soil, had fixed domestic relations, and participated in the religious life of the society; and the tendency of all his circumstances, as well as of the opinions and sentiments of the time, was in the direction of liberation. This issue was, indeed, not so speedily reached by the rural as by the urban workman. Already in the second phase serfdom is abolished in the cities and towns, whilst agricultural serfdom does not anywhere disappear before the third.
The latter revolution is attributed by Adam Smith to the operation of selfish interests, that of the proprietor on the one hand, who discovered the superior productiveness of cultivation by free tenants, and that of the sovereign on the other, who, jealous of the great lords, encouraged the encroachments of the villeins on their authority. But that the Church deserves a share of the merit seems beyond doubt—moral impulses, as often happens, conspiring with political and economic motives.
The serfs were treated best on the ecclesiastical estates, and the members of the priesthood, both by their doctrine and by their situation since the Northern conquests, were constituted patrons and guardians of the oppressed or subject classes. Out of the liberation of the serfs rose the first lineaments of the hierarchical constitution of modern industry in the separation between the entrepreneurs and the workers.
The personal enfranchisement of the latter, stimulating activity Edition: current; Page:  and developing initiative, led to accumulations, which were further promoted by the establishment of order and good government by the civic corporations which grew out of the enfranchisement.
Thus an active capitalist class came into existence. It appeared first in commerce, the inhabitants of the trading cities importing expensive luxuries from foreign countries, or the improved manufactures of richer communities, for which the great proprietors gladly exchanged the raw produce of their lands.
In performing the office of carriers, too, between different countries, these cities had an increasing field for commercial enterprise. At a later period, as Adam Smith has shown, commerce promoted the growth of manufactures, which were either produced for foreign sale, or made from foreign materials, or imitated from the work of foreign artificers. But the first important development of handicrafts in modern Europe belongs to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the rise of manufacturing entrepreneurs is not conspicuous within the Middle Ages properly so called.
Agriculture, of course, lags behind; though the feudal lords tend to transform themselves into directors of agricultural enterprise, their habits and prejudices retard such a movement, and the advance of rural industry proceeds slowly. It does, however, proceed, partly by the stimulation arising from the desire to procure the finer objects of manufacture imported from abroad or produced by increased skill at home, partly by the expenditure on the land of capital amassed in the prosecution of urban industries.
Some of the trade corporations in the cities appear to have been of great antiquity; but it was in the thirteenth century that they rose to importance by being legally recognised and regulated. These corporations have been much too absolutely condemned by most of the economists, who insist on applying to the Middle Ages the ideas of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They were, it is true, unfitted for modern times, and it was necessary that they should disappear; their existence indeed was quite unduly prolonged.
But they were at first in several respects highly Edition: current; Page:  beneficial. They were a valuable rallying-point for the new industrial forces, which were strengthened by the rise of the esprit de corps which they fostered. They improved technical skill by the precautions which were taken for the solidity and finished execution of the wares produced in each locality, and it was with a view to the advancement of the industrial arts that St.
Louis undertook the better organization of the trades of Paris. The corporations also encouraged good moral habits through the sort of spontaneous surveillance which they exercised, and they tended to develop the social sentiment within the limits of each profession, in times when a larger public spirit could scarcely yet be looked for. The modern period, which then began, is filled by a development exhibiting three successive phases, and issuing in the state of things which characterises our own epoch.
During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the Catholico-feudal system was breaking down by the mutual conflicts of its own official members, whilst the constituent elements of a new order were rising beneath it. On the practical side the antagonists matched against each other were the crown and the feudal chiefs; and these rival powers sought to strengthen themselves by forming alliances with the towns and the industrial forces they represented. The movements of this phase can scarcely be said to find an echo in any contemporary economic literature.
In the second phase of the modern period, which opens with the beginning of the sixteenth century, the spontaneous collapse of the mediaeval structure is followed by a series of systematic assaults which still further disorganize it. During this phase the central temporal power, which has made a great advance in stability and resources, lays hold of the rising elements of manufactures and commerce, and seeks, whilst satisfying the popular enthusiasm for their promotion, to use them for political ends, and make them subserve its own strength and splendour by furnishing the treasure necessary for military success.
With this practical effort, and the social tendencies on which it rests, the Mercantile school of political economy, which then obtains a spontaneous ascendency, is in close relation. Whilst partially Edition: current; Page:  succeeding in the policy we have indicated, the European Governments yet on the whole necessarily fail, their origin and nature disqualifying them for the task of guiding the industrial movement; and the discredit of the spiritual power, with which most of them are confederate, further weakens and undermines them.
In the last phase, which coincides approximately with the eighteenth century, the tendency to a completely new system, both temporal and spiritual, becomes decisively pronounced, first in the philosophy and general literature of the period, and then in the great French explosion. The universal critical doctrine, which had been announced by the Protestantism of the previous phase, and systematised in England towards the close of that phase, is propagated and popularised, especially by French writers.
The spirit of individualism inherent in the doctrine was eminently adapted to the wants of the time, and the general favour with which the dogmas of the social contract and laisserfaire were received indicated a just sentiment of the conditions proper to the contemporary situation of European societies.
So long as a new coherent system of thought and life could not be introduced, what was to be desired was a large and active development of personal energy under no further control of the old social powers than would suffice to prevent anarchy. Governments were therefore rightly called on to abandon any effective direction of the social movement, and, as far as possible, to restrict their intervention to the maintenance of material order.
This policy was, from its nature, of temporary application only; but the negative school, according to its ordinary spirit, erected what was merely a transitory and exceptional necessity into a permanent and normal law. The unanimous European movement towards the liberation of effort, which sometimes rose to the height of a public passion, had various sides, corresponding to the different aspects of thought and life; and of the economic side the French physiocrats were the first theoretic representatives on the large scale, though the office they undertook was, both in its destructive and Edition: current; Page:  organic provinces, more thoroughly and effectively done by Adam Smith, who ought to be regarded as continuing and completing their work.
It must be admitted that with the whole modern movement serious moral evils were almost necessarily connected. The general discipline which the Middle Ages had sought to institute and had partially succeeded in establishing, though on precarious bases, having broken down, the sentiment of duty was weakened along with the spirit of ensemble which is its natural ally, and individualism in doctrine tended to encourage egoism in action.
In the economic field this result is specially conspicuous. National selfishness and private cupidity increasingly dominate; and the higher and lower industrial classes tend to separation and even to mutual hostility. The new elements—science and industry—which were gradually acquiring ascendency bore indeed in their bosom an ultimate discipline more efficacious and stable than that which had been dissolved; but the final synthesis was long too remote, and too indeterminate in its nature, to be seen through the dispersive and seemingly incoherent growth of those elements.
Now, however, that synthesis is becoming appreciable; and it is the effort towards it, and towards the practical system to be founded on it, that gives its peculiar character to the period in which we live. And to this spontaneous nisus of society corresponds, as we shall see, a new form of economic doctrine, in which it tends to be absorbed into general sociology and subordinated to morals. It will be the object of the following pages to verify and illustrate in detail the scheme here broadly indicated, and to point out the manner in which the respective features of the several successive modern phases find their counterpart and reflection in the historical development of economic speculation.
The spiritual power became less apt as well as less able to fulfil its moral office, and the social movement was more and more left to the irregular impulses of individual energy, often enlisted in the service of ambition and cupidity. Strong Governments were formed, which served to maintain material order amidst the growing intellectual and moral disorder. The universal admission of the commons as an element in the political system showed the growing strength of the industrial forces, as did also in another way the insurrections of the working classes.
The decisive prevalence of peaceful activity was indicated by the rise of the institution of paid armies—at first temporary, afterwards permanent—which prevented the interruption or distraction of labour by devoting a determinate minority of the population to martial operations and exercises. Manufactures became increasingly important; and in this branch of industry the distinction between the entrepreneur and the workers was first firmly established, whilst fixed relations between these were made possible by the restriction of military training and service to a special profession.
Navigation was facilitated by the use of the mariner's compass. The art of printing showed how the intellectual movement and the industrial development were destined to be brought into relation with each other and to work towards common ends.
Public credit rose in Florence, Venice, and Genoa long before Holland and England attained any great financial importance. Just at the close of the phase, the discovery of America and of the new route to the East, whilst revolutionising the course of trade, prepared the way for the establishment of colonies, which contributed powerfully to the growing preponderance of industrial life, and pointed to its ultimate universality.
It is doubtless due to the equivocal nature of this stage, standing between the mediaeval and the fully characterised modern period, that on the theoretic side we find nothing corresponding to such marvellous practical ferment and expansion. The general political doctrine of Aquinas was Edition: current; Page:  retained, with merely subordinate modifications. The only special economic question which seems to have received particular attention was that of the nature and functions of money, the importance of which began to be felt as payments in service or in kind were discontinued, and regular systems of taxation began to be introduced.
Roscher pronounces him a great economist. Second Modern Phase: Mercantile System Throughout the first modern phase the rise of the new social forces had been essentially spontaneous; in the second they became the object of systematic encouragement on the part of Governments, which, now that the financial methods of the Middle Ages no longer sufficed, could not further their military and political ends by any other means than increased taxation, implying augmented wealth of the community.
Industry thus became a permanent interest of European Governments, and even tended to become the principal object of their policy. In natural harmony with this state of facts, the mercantile system arose and grew, attaining its highest development about the middle of the seventeenth century.
The Mercantile doctrine, stated in its most extreme form, makes wealth and money identical, and regards it therefore as the great object of a community so to conduct its dealings with other nations as to attract to itself the largest possible Edition: current; Page:  share of the precious metals. Each country must seek to export the utmost possible quantity of its own manufactures, and to import as little as possible of those of other countries, receiving the difference of the two values in gold and silver.
This difference is called the balance of trade, and the balance is favourable when more money is received than is paid. Governments must resort to all available expedients— prohibition of, or high duties on, the importation of foreign wares, bounties on the export of home manufactures, restrictions on the export of the precious metals—for the purpose of securing such a balance.
But this statement of the doctrine, though current in the text-books, does not represent correctly the views of all who must be classed as belonging to the Mercantile school. Many of the members of that school were much too clear-sighted to entertain the belief, which the modern student feels difficulty in supposing any class of thinkers to have professed, that wealth consists exclusively of gold and silver.
The mercantilists may be best described, as Roscher 1 has remarked, not by any definite economic theorem which they held in common, but by a set of theoretic tendencies, commonly found in combination, though severally prevailing in different degrees in different minds. These tendencies may be enumerated as follows: 1 Towards over-estimating the importance of possessing a large amount of the precious metals; 2 towards an undue exaltation a of foreign trade over domestic, and b of the industry which works up materials over that which provides them; 3 towards attaching too high a value to a dense population as an element of national strength; and 4 towards invoking the action of the state in furthering artificially the attainment of the several ends thus proposed as desirable.
If we consider the contemporary position of affairs in Western Europe, we shall have no difficulty in understanding how these tendencies would inevitably arise. The discoveries in the New World had led to a large development of the European currencies. Circulation was becoming more rapid, distant communications more frequent, city life and movable property more important.
The mercantilists were impressed by the fact that money is wealth sui generis, that it is at all times in universal demand, and that it puts into the hands of its possessor the power of acquiring all other commodities. The period, again, was marked by the formation of great states, with powerful Governments at their head. These Governments required men and money for the maintenance of permanent armies, which, especially for the religious and Italian wars, were kept up on a great scale.
Court expenses, too, were more lavish than ever before, and a larger number of civil officials was employed. The royal domains and dues were insufficient to meet these requirements, and taxation grew with the demands of the monarchies. Statesmen saw that for their own political ends industry must flourish. But manufactures make possible a denser population and a higher total value of exports than agriculture; they open a less limited and more promptly extensible field to enterprise.
Hence they became the object of special Governmental favour and patronage, whilst agriculture fell comparatively into the background. The growth of manufactures reacted on commerce, to which a new and mighty arena had been opened by the establishment of colonies. These were viewed simply as estates to be worked for the advantage of the mother countries, and the aim of statesmen was to make the colonial trade a new source of public revenue.
Each nation, as a whole, working for its own power, and the greater ones for predominance, they entered into a competitive struggle in the economic no less than in the political field, success in the former being indeed, by the rulers, regarded as instrumental to pre-eminence in the latter. A national economic interest came to exist, of which the Government made itself the representative head.
States became a sort of artificial hothouses for the rearing of urban industries. Edition: current; Page:  Production was subjected to systematic regulation with the object of securing the goodness and cheapness of the exported articles, and so maintaining the place of the nation in foreign markets. The industrial control was exercised, in part directly by the State, but largely also through privileged corporations and trading companies.
High duties on imports were resorted to, at first perhaps mainly for revenue, but afterwards in the interest of national production. Commercial treaties were a principal object of diplomacy, the end in view being to exclude the competition of other nations in foreign markets, whilst in the home market as little room as possible was given for the introduction of anything but raw materials from abroad. The colonies were prohibited from trading with other European nations than the parent country, to which they supplied either the precious metals or raw produce purchased with home manufactures.
It is evident that what is known as the Mercantile doctrine was essentially the theoretic counterpart of the practical activities of the time, and that nations and Governments were led to it, not by any form of scientific thought, but by the force of outward circumstance, and the observation of facts which lay on the surface. And yet, if we regard the question from the highest point of view of philosophic history, we must pronounce the universal enthusiasm of this second modern phase for manufactures and commerce to have been essentially just, as leading the nations into the main avenues of general social development.
If the thought of the period, instead of being impelled by contemporary circumstances, could have been guided by sociological prevision, it must have entered with zeal upon the same path which it empirically selected. The organization of agricultural industry could not at that period make any marked progress, for the direction of its operations was still in the hands of the feudal class, which could not in general really learn the habits of industrial life, or place itself in sufficient harmony with the workers on its domains.
The industry of the towns had to precede that of the country, and the latter had to be developed mainly Edition: current; Page:  through the indirect action of the former. And it is plain that it was in the life of the manufacturing proletariat, whose labours are necessarily the most continuous and the most social, that a systematic discipline could at a later period be first applied, to be afterwards extended to the rural populations.
That the efforts of Governments for the furtherance of manufactures and commerce were really effective towards that end is admitted by Adam Smith, and cannot reasonably be doubted, though free trade doctrinaires have often denied it.
Technical skill must have been promoted by their encouragements; whilst new forms of national production were fostered by attracting workmen from other countries, and by lightening the burden of taxation on struggling industries. Communication and transport by land and sea were more rapidly improved with a view to facilitate traffic; and, not the least important effect, the social dignity of the industrial professions was enhanced relatively to that of the classes before exclusively dominant.
It has often been asked to whom the foundation of the mercantile system, in the region whether of thought or of practice, is to be attributed. But the question admits of no absolute answer. That mode of conceiving economic facts arises spontaneously in unscientific minds, and ideas suggested by it are to be found in the Greek and Latin writers.
The policy which it dictates was, as we have shown, inspired by the situation of the European nations at the opening of the modern period. Such a policy had been already in some degree practised in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, thus preceding any formal exposition or defence of its speculative basis.
At the commencement of the sixteenth century it began to exercise a widely extended influence. Charles V adopted it, and his example contributed much to its predominance. The leading states soon entered on a universal competition, in which each Power brought into play all its political and financial resources for the purpose of securing to itself manufacturing Edition: current; Page:  and commercial preponderance. Through almost the whole of the seventeenth century the prize, so far as commerce was concerned, remained in the possession of Holland, Italy having lost her former ascendency by the opening of the new maritime routes, and by her political misfortunes, and Spain and Germany being depressed by protracted wars and internal dissensions.
The admiring envy of Holland felt by English politicians and economists appears in such writers as Raleigh, Mun, Child, and Temple; 1 and how strongly the same spectacle acted on French policy is shown by a well-known letter of Colbert to M. Cromwell, by the Navigation Act, which destroyed the carrying trade of Holland and founded the English empire of the sea, and Colbert, by his whole economic policy, domestic and international, were the chief practical representatives of the mercantile system.
From the latter great statesman the Italian publicist Mengotti gave to that system the name of Colbertismo; but it would be an error to consider the French minister as having absolutely accepted its dogmas. He regarded his measures as temporary only, and spoke of protective duties as crutches by the help of which manufacturers might learn to walk and then throw them away. The policy of exclusions had been previously pursued by Sully, partly with a view to the accumulation of a royal treasure, but chiefly from his special enthusiasm for agriculture, and his dislike of the introduction of foreign luxuries as detrimental to the national character.
Colbert's tariff of not merely simplified but considerably reduced the existing duties; the tariff of indeed increased them, but that was really a political measure directed against the Dutch. It seems certain that France owed in a large measure to his policy the vast development of trade and manufactures which so much impressed the imagination of contemporary Europe, and of which we hear so much from Edition: current; Page:  English writers of the time of Petty.
But this policy had also undeniably its dark side. Industry was forced by such systematic regulation to follow invariable courses, instead of adapting itself to changing tastes and popular demand. Nor was it free to simplify the processes of production, or to introduce increased division of labour and improved appliances. Spontaneity, initiation, and invention were repressed or discouraged, and thus ulterior sacrificed in a great measure to immediate results.
The more enlightened statesmen, and Colbert in particular, endeavoured, it is true, to minimise these disadvantages by procuring, often at great expense, and communicating to the trades through inspectors nominated by the Government, information respecting improved processes employed elsewhere in the several arts; but this, though in some degree a real, was certainly on the whole, and in the long run, an insufficient compensation.
We must not expect from the writers of this stage any exposition of political economy as a whole; the publications which appeared were for the most part evoked by special exigencies, and related to particular questions, usually of a practical kind, which arose out of the great movements of the time. They were in fact of the nature of counsels to the Governments of states, pointing out how best they might develop the productive powers at their disposal and increase the resources of their respective countries.
They are conceived as List claims for them strictly in the spirit of national economy, and cosmopolitanism is essentially, foreign to them. On these monographs the mercantile theory sometimes had little influence, the problems discussed not involving its tenets.
But it must in most cases be taken to be the scheme of fundamental doctrine so far as it was ever entitled to such a description which in the last resort underlies the writer's conclusions. The rise of prices following on the discovery of the American mines was one of the subjects which first attracted the attention of theorists. This rise brought about a great and gradually increasing disturbance of existing economic relations, Edition: current; Page:  and so produced much perplexity and anxiety, which were all the more felt because the cause of the change was not understood.
To this was added the loss and inconvenience arising from the debasement of the currency often resorted to by sovereigns as well as by republican states. Italy suffered most from this latter abuse, which was multiplied by her political divisions. It was this evil which called forth the work of Count Gasparo Scaruffi Discorso sopra le monete e delta vera proporzione fra I'oro e l argento, In this he put forward the bold idea of a universal money, everywhere identical in size, shape, composition, and designation.
The project was, of course, premature, and was not adopted even by the Italian princes to whom the author specially appealed; but the reform is one which, doubtless, the future will see realised.
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