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anarchical economists."

Both in France and in England this movement
was at first confined within reasonable limits. The
names of two men are most prominently associated
with it, men who did not desert economic science,
but on the contrary rendered it more illustrious
Michel Chevalier and Stuart Mill both men of an
exact and penetrating order of mind, as well as
generous hearts, enthusiastic and given to optimism.

Michel Chevalier advised that the State should be
allowed to play a considerable part in social
progress. " I have it at heart," he said, " to combat
certain prejudices which had great weight a few
years since, and which have still a considerable
following, prejudices according to which the Govern-
ment ought to confine its functions towards society,
not only in the matter of public works, but also all
along the line, to those of inspection and super-
vision; and must refrain from action, in any
direction, although, as its very name signifies, it is


destined to stand at the nation's helm.
There is, in fact, a reaction going on in the best
minds: the theories of social economy which find
most favour are those in which power is no longer
regarded as a natural enemy, but appears as an in-
defatigable and beneficent auxiliary, a sort of
tutelary guide and support. People are beginning
to recognise that its function is to guide society
towards good and to preserve it from evil, to be
the active and intelligent promoter of public im-
provement, without pretending to a monopoly of
this glorious prerogative." :

The finishing clause of this last sentence comes
happily as a corrective to whatever there is of ex-
cessive in the rest of this statement. When he wrote
these lines Michel Chevalier was still a determined
advocate of private initiative, and he had in his
mind no anticipation whatever of the yoke to which
it would be subjected thirty or forty years later.

It was the same with Stuart Mill. The world

1 Michel Chevalier : Course of Political Economy, vol. ii.
lesson 6.



has never known a more persevering or more per-
suasive defender of liberty. Yet he had at bottom
a tendency towards Socialism which he could at
times with difficulty suppress, and which occasion-
ally carried him away. We find it again and again
in many parts of his writings : but he never yields
to it finally or without a struggle.

If he admits that "the action of Government 1
may be necessary where that of individuals is lack-
ing, even though the latter may be more desirable,"
he hastens to recognise the importance of cultivating
habits of voluntary collective action. He adds that
" laisser faire must be the general rule."

Passing from the doctrine to its application, he

1 We may be permitted to remark that this word " Govern-
ment," as here used by Mill, dissipates a host of illusions
which attend the habitual use of the word " State." The
Government is a concrete being, the State an abstract one. To
whatever party we belong, as citizen or as subject, we know
well the imperfections, the defects, and the vices of "the
Government." The State, on the contrary, we conceive of as
an ideal being, which we endow with all the fairest qualities
of which we dream, and from which we take away all the weak-
nesses we detest. We should gain much, both in precision of
ideas and in certainty of applications, if we constantly replaced
the term "State" by the term " Government."


writes that among the nations of the Continent it
is very common both in theory and in practice to
exaggerate the prerogatives of the State, while in
Great Britain the opposite tendency has hitherto

It must be remembered that these passages from
John Stuart Mill date from at least thirty years
ago. Since then English legislation and the English
administration have shown a singular tendency to
invade and obtrude themselves on a number of
domains hitherto reserved to private initiative, such
as manufacture, schools, hygiene, etc.

The purely doctrinal reaction led by Michel
Chevalier in France, and John Stuart Mill in
England, against the system of the non-intervention
of the State was not attended by immediate dangers.
Both writers would have been among the first to
oppose those exaggerated views, which, instead of
making the State an auxiliary of private enterprise
would make it its enemy.

In France there were already many writers, of
an unequal degree of distinction, who went much


further, and began to magnify the State at the ex-
pense of the individual : for instance, Dupont- White,
Jules Duval, and Horn. The first of these especi-
ally, who had the largest hearing among the
general public, professed an unspeakable contempt
for private initiative. He maintained that "indi-
viduals, with their aspirations for their personal
welfare, have not in them the principle of progress."

This seems to be the formula which counts the
largest number of adherents to-day, both systematic
and unconscious. It has invaded contemporary
philosophy; it is reflected in the pages of the larger
portion of the press ; it lies confusedly in the back-
ground of the minds of most of our legislators; it
issues in various and widely echoing forms from
the lips of our popular orators.

" A Government should, above all, be a motive-
power for progress, an organ of public opinion, a
protector of legitimate rights, and an initiator of
all the energies which constitute the genius of the
nation." This is the immense task which was
assigned to the State by the celebrated tribune who


launched the third Republic on the path which it
has since pursued with tottering steps. 1

New theorists are constantly cropping up who
work out this presumptuous idea in infinite detail.
They are, however, less numerous in France than in
other countries.

In Belgium, M. Emile de Laveleye, an incisive
writer, pronounces clearly, though still with certain
reservations, in favour of a considerable extension of
the prerogatives of the State. He is not content
with saying, what no one but the Anarchist econo-
mists would deny, that the State is something more
than a mere organ of protection, a guarantee of peace
and order, that it is also a necessary instrument of
progress. Its mission, he says, is "to make justice
reign ; " but in the sense of the new school, to make
justice reign does not mean to secure the sanctity of
contracts. It means rather to pursue the realisation
of a certain ideal ; it is to modify custom and conven-
tion in order to attain this particular ideal which is

1 See Gambetta's speech at Belleville in 1878.


conceived by the State, or rather by the group of
persons who for the moment represent the State.

In England, the greatest thinker, the most inde-
pendent mind, the mind that sees the greatest number
of things in their entirety as well as in their myriad
aspects I mean Mr. Herbert Spencer remains more
than ever opposed to State intrusion. With his
characteristic boldness of utterance he writes that
the official machine is slow, stupid, wasteful, corrupt. 1
Not content with merely affirming this, he accumu-
lates examples to prove it. But there are already
some, notably Prof. Huxley, who hold in principle to
the same general framework of ideas, but who yet
incline towards allowing the State to play an im-
portant part in the work of reform. 2

It is especially in Germany that the new doctrine
is spreading. There the idolatry of the State may be

1 Essays on Politics, pp. 28-36.

2 It would be unjust not to mention here the efforts of a
private association called the Liberty and Property Defence
League, for combating the State-Socialism which is gaining so
much ground in England. This league has for many years past
issued a number of instructive leaflets against the usurpations
of Parliament in the spheres of civil or commercial life.


seen fully developed. Many causes combine to pro-
duce this effect : old historic traditions, the natural
tendency of German philosophy ; the desire of their
economists to innovate without any great effort of
imagination, and to form a national school opposed
both to the English and the French schools ; finally,
the prestige gained for the Prussian monarchy by its
triumphs, which raised it to the level of the most
astonishing administrative machine that has ever

The result is that German writers fall into a sort
of ecstasy when they begin to treat of the State.
They utter cries of admiration and adoration instead
of producing arguments or stating definitions.

M. Lorenz von Stein writes : " The State is a com-
munity of men elevated into an autonomous person-
ality and acting by itself. We recognise the State
as the highest form of personality. The task of the
State is, therefore, ideally illimitable and infinite." *

Lorenz von Stein is a Viennese. But we find that

1 Lorenz von Stein : Lehrbucti der Finanz Wissenschaft, ed. ii,
pp. 2, 6,


Professor Wagner of Berlin, who is stationed at closer
quarters with the most brilliant manifestation of the
active and powerful State, shows no less enthusiasm.
The immense task of the State he divided into two
parts, each of which appears to him almost without
limits : the mission of justice (Rechtzweck dea
Stoats) and the mission of civilisation (Culturzweck
des Stoats).

By this mission of justice we must not merely under-
stand the service of material security, but other and
much more extensive functions, manifold and various,
and susceptible every day of new developments.
This is what Wagner understands by what Von
Stein calls the Social Idea (die sociale Idee), by which
the Modern State must be penetrated. This social
idea especially concerns the elevation of the lower

Here some metaphysical distinctions supervene.
We must distinguish, in this supreme personality
which we call the State, the will (der Wille), which is
the regulating force, and the action (die Thdtigkeit).

Dr. Schaffle, the most ingenious of the German


economists, and whose writings are beginning to be
most highly thought of by the whole new scientific
school in Germany and Italy, and in a less measure
in Spain and Portugal, especially since 1870, and who
was once Minister of Commerce in the Austrian
Empire, devotes four large volumes to the analysis
of all the organs and all the functions of the social
body, as if it were a real body in flesh and bone, and he
gravely represents to us that in this social body thus
minutely described, the State represents the brain.

The writers whom we have just quoted, however,
are not pure theorists, philosophers, or cloudy juris-
consults : they turn their attention to practical
matters, and notably to finance. Their studies on
the budget and on taxation ought to have a little
pruned their exuberance. What will become of
those, on the other hand, who hover eternally in
higher spheres and never take notice of such vile
things as the equilibrium of receipts and expenditure,
the difficulties of the rate-payers, the cost of proceed-
ings, etc. ? They will dogmatise and preach more and
more freely in honour of that great idol the State.


" The direct and veritable aim of the State," says
Bluntschli, "is to develop the faculties of the nation,
to perfect its life and achievement by a progressive
onward march that will not bring it into contradic-
tion with the destinies of humanity, a duty at the
same time moral and political." This passage is not
luminously clear, in which point it resembles a multi-
tude of others which might be placed side by side
with it. But acts of invocation towards a superior
and mysterious power, such as is the State for certain
German writers, can very well endure this lack of

There is, perhaps, but one man among our German
neighbours who has remained firm in defence of
individual liberties and private initiative, and that
a man of unexampled erudition and incomparable
clearness namely Roscher, whose professorial jubilee
has just been celebrated by the German universities.
But he is one of those veterans who are everywhere
honoured, while the lessons they teach are everywhere

How can we wonder that Germany should have


become the classic land of Socialism when its learned
men uphold and propagate with such indefatigable
vigilance the creed of the State and its infinite task
(Aufgabe begrifflich unendliche) ?

Ideas give birth to facts. Everywhere in Europe,
reflectingly or unreflectingly, parliaments, provincial
councils, municipalities, are penetrated with the
doctrine which we have just set forth. Those who
hold the reins of public authority at every stage and
level ought to be the chief directors and promoters
of civilisation.

A French prefect, deeply imbued with philosophy,
conversing with me some years ago, said to me,
concerning the inhabitants of a revolutionary town
in the South, " They are propulsive" He pro-
nounced this word propulsive with unction and with

The State, in the view both of our sages and of
our crowds nowadays, ought to be propulsive. It
does not suffice for it to be the rudder, it must now
become the screw. And it is straining so to become,
in its threefold manifestation, as the central power,


provincial power, and municipal authority. Our
budgets, all our budgets, whether of communes, of
provinces, or of departments, bear evident traces
of this.


The New Conception of the State in Relation to
National and Local Budgets.

THE impulse given to the politico-administrative machine was
only kept within bounds by financial exigencies The State
Trinity: central, provincial, and municipal power The armed
peace is not the sole cause of the financial embarrassments of
modern States Enormous development of non-military ser-
vices The expenses of local authorities have increased quite
as much as those of the central power, witness England
Witness also Italy, France, and the United States- The
different points of view from which the extension of State
prerogatives may be regarded with favour The State still
remains the sole Divinity of the modern world.

WHILE in the ordered progress of ideas a great
number of writers were learning to abandon the old
conception of the State as reduced to a few very
simple prerogatives, all the countries of Europe, Great
Britain as well as the nations of the Continent, were
beginning to plunge the State into a host of tasks

and services from which it had hitherto abstained,



It is especially within the last fifteen years that
this impulse has been given to the politico-adminis-
trative machine. We may even say that it has
received its sole check from the pressure of financial

Everywhere the ill-considered development of
State prerogatives in the trinity of its forces, central,
provincial, and municipal, has been quite as much as
military armaments the cause of financial distress
and economic collapse among the nations of Europe.
Were it not for the fact that all the public services
which the State undertakes require a pecuniary
endowment, and that the finances of a country are
not susceptible of unlimited extension, we should see
most of the States on the Continent encroaching far
more even than they are doing on the domain
hitherto reserved to free associations.

The deficit of budgets is the sole and only curb
which checks the ambitions and encroachments of
the State in our day. But being more or less limited
in its action, it takes its revenge by a more and more
extended exercise of its will that is to say, of its


regulating power which, of course, costs nothing, or
very nearly so.

It has become the fashion to throw the responsi-
bility of the heavy charges and deficits of European
peoples on the armed peace, and on the discoveries
which are continually transforming both maritime
and military equipments. To do this is to see only
one of the two main causes of the evil.

If this were so, it would only be the budgets of
the central authority which would be largely in-
creased ; whereas, on the contrary, local budgets,
whether of provinces, departments, or communes,
have increased still more outrageously, and with their
prodigious inflation find themselves still more hard
put to it than the national budgets. In the latter
also, the department of non-military services has
singularly increased.

The result of certain statistics based on official
documents goes to show that in England the ex-
penses of the Civil Service amounted in 1817 only to
1,721,000 sterling, while they rose gradually to
2,507,000 in 1837, to 7,227,000 in 1857, to


8,491,000 in 1867, to 13,333,000 in 1577, and
finally, in round numbers, to 16,000,000 in 1880;
thus the expenses of the Civil Service have increased
sixfold between 1817 and 1880, while since 1867
only, they have almost doubled.

I have been unable to pursue the comparison
further than 1880, owing to a change in the method
of English statistics, but certain indications lead me
to believe that from '80 to '88 an additional increase
of at least 10% has taken place.

Local budgets bear still more unmistakable signs of
the inevitable effects of the prevailing new conception
of the State. Let us first look at Great Britain, a
country which no longer merits its old renown as the
enemy of government interference.

In 1868 the local divisions of the United Kingdom,
counties, boroughs, or parishes, absorbed in taxes and
in loans a sum of not more than 36,520,000. This
is already a respectable figure, and one which would
have made Messrs. Robert de Mohl, Fisco, or Van der
Straeten, shudder. In England and Wales alone,
thirty or forty years ago, the sum of direct local


taxation was estimated at 12,480,000. In 1873
the local divisions of the United Kingdom still re-
quired only 41,000,000, of which 13,480,000 came
from loans. But in 1884 these ravenous local ad-
ministrations demanded 62,720,000 from taxation,
from certain municipal industries, and from loans, in
the proportion of 43,680,000 from the two first
sources of income, and 19,040,000 from the third
Thus in the short space of sixteen years the require-
ments of British local divisions have increased by
about three-fourths their former amount.

The Continent is in no way behind England in this
respect. The budgets of the Italian provinces, which
in 1865 amounted to only 1,640,000, rose by 1875
to 3,320,000, and by 1884 to 4,480,000, while the
Italian Communal budgets, which in 1863 amounted
only to 10,560,000, rose to 15,880,000 in 1874, and
to 22,440,000 in 1885.

In France it is more difficult to make a complete
estimate, as our local statistics are very defective.
Here are, however, a few data. The expenditure of

the city of Paris has passed through the* following



stages : in 1813, 920,000 (23 million francs), or 30s.
per person; at the end of the Restoration, 1,280,000
(32 million francs), or 38s. 6d. per person. The
economic regime of Louis Philippe did not alter these
proportions : in 1850 the Parisian budget came out
again with a charge of 37s. 8d. per head. The
Imperial regime, under which Paris was practically
reconstructed, adopted in 1869 a Parisian budget of
7,320,000 (168 million francs) for a population of
1,800,000, or 3 15s. 6d. a head. In 1887, for rather
more than 2,200,000 souls, the Parisian budget
rose to 10,280,000 (257 million francs) or about
4 10s. 6d. a head.

The humble budgets of our smaller communes
show a much more rapid increase even than this.
The following figures will show this: in 1803 the
small local additions to direct taxation produced only
2,280,000 (57 million francs); in 1864 they are
called upon for 8,240,000 (206 million francs); in
3869 for 9,720,000 (243 million francs) ; in 1878 for
12,360,000 (309 million francs), and finally in 1888
for 14,160,000 (354 million francs). The increase


is therefore 520% since the beginning of the
century, and nearly 50% since 1869. Besides
this, the yield of the city dues, which in 1823 was
only 1,760,000 (44 million francs), in 1843 was
2,600,000 (65 million francs), in 1862, 5,640,000
(141 million francs), and rose in 1887 to 11,080,000
(277 million francs).

Remember further that the local authorities are
threatened with all kinds of new obligatory expenses.
A host of projects which would attack both their
liberties and their purses are in the air, ready to
condense " for the promotion of civilisation."

Let no one therefore maintain that military charges
are the sole cause of the rate-payers' sufferings.
These military charges have not as yet been in any
way burdensome to the local budgets which, never-
theless, weigh so heavily on an impoverished agricul-
ture and depreciated property.

There are some who would point us for our conso-
lation to an analogous phenomenon, which is to be
seen, though in far less proportions, in the United
States of America. We find in that country the


remarkable coincidence that whenever the national,
provincial, and State debts diminish, those of the
municipalities increase. Since 1870 the Federal debt
has decreased 42%, that of the different States
25%, that of the counties 8%, while that of the muni-
cipalities, on the contrary, has doubled. The entire
amount of these debts (State, territorial, county, and
municipal), which in 1870 rose to 868 million dollars
(in round numbers 174,000,000), had reached in
1886 the sum of 1,146 million dollars (or 23,000,000).
It stands nearly as high as the Federal interest-
bearing debt, which in 1886 was not more than 1,146
million dollars (or 224,000,000).

Nevertheless, see what an enormous difference there
is between the United States and Europe. It may
be that in the former country the municipal adminis-
tration is lazy, wasteful, ill-controlled : but from the
above results it would seem that it has not yet aban-
doned itself, at all events generally, to those ideas of
systematic intrusion and meddling which prevail
among the European municipalities. In any case the
prudent management of the federation, and of the


larger number of States and Provinces which make
up the great American Union, serves as a counterpoise
to any municipal excesses.

But in Europe, and especially on the Continent,
the state of things is very different. Another proof
that military and maritime armaments are not solely
responsible for the economic sufferings of the nations
of the Old World lies in the disorderly outbreak of
public works, ill-considered, badly directed, badly
utilised, which has run riot everywhere during the
last fifteen years. Let us leave Germany out of the
reckoning, for she had exceptional resources in the
200 millions sterling she extracted from France, and
having a past entirely free from debt, might easily
allow herself greater latitude in expenditure. But
look at France, with her famous Freycinet scheme,
burdened by her own deliberate act with nearly
four millions sterling of guaranteed dividends to the
railway companies, and paying every year at least an-
other four millions in various annuities on the repay-
ment of loans effected directly for the sake of public
works, which are for the most part unproductive.


We still rejoice in a singular power of propa-
gandism, even where our very worst inventions are
concerned. The Freycinet mania went the round of
Europe, finding imitators everywhere. Austria and
Hungary, both of them needy countries, were fired
with it, and have since been occupied in exhausting
themselves over railroads, madly competing with one
another, and exploited by insufficient tariffs. Other
countries still more needy are bent on the same
task : among them Spain, who seems determined not
to let a single private line of railway flourish ; also
in the course of this year Italy, whose agriculture
is in a distressed condition, and whose finances are
extremely weak; Portugal again, little Greece, and
various others.

Every princeling must have his pages : to-day his
pages consist of a complete set of hierarchical func-
tionaries specialised to every possible service that
the imagination of legislators can invent, justifying

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Online LibraryPaul Leroy-BeaulieuThe modern state in relation to society and the individual; → online text (page 2 of 11)