Huxley – Natural Rights

Thomas H. Huxley: Collected Essays
Volume VIII (1890)

Natural Rights and Political Rights

In looking through a series of critical notices the other day, my eye was caught by a remark upon my essay “On the Natural Inequality of Men”, the effect that it was well enough; but why should I have taken all that trouble to slay the slain?

Evidently, the propounder of the question believes that the doctrines of that school of political philosophers of which Rousseau was the typical representative, are not only killed but dead. But, whatever may hold good of men, doctrines do not necessarily die from being killed. Many a long year ago, I fondly imagined that Hume and Kant and Hamilton having slain the “Absolute,” the thing, must, in decency, decease. Yet, at the present time, the same hypostasized negation, sometimes thinly disguised under a new name, goes about in broad daylight, in company with the dogmas of absolute ethics, political and other, and seems to be as lively as ever. It would seem to be to no purpose that the history of every branch of physical and historical science teems with examples of the fate which befalls the hasty generaliser who numbers, rather than weighs, supposed facts; and treats the rough approximations to truth obtained by the observation of highly complex phenomena as if they had the precision of geometrical theorems.

There is, unfortunately, abundant evidence that the vicious method of a priori political speculation which I have illustrated from the writings of Rousseau is not only in full vigour, but that it is exerting an influence upon the political action of our contemporaries which is extremely serious. No better evidence of the fact need be adduced than the avidity with which the writings of political teachers of this school have been and are being read, especially among the more intelligent of the working classes; and I doubt if any book published during the last ten years has obtained a larger circulation among them, not only in this country but in the United States, than “Progress and Poverty.” The other day there was a rumour that some devoted disciple of its author, Mr. Henry George, had bequeathed a large sum of money to him in order to aid in the propagation of his doctrines.

In some respects, the work undoubtedly deserves the success which it has won. Clearly and vigorously written, though sometimes weakened by superfluous rhetorical confectionery, “Progress and Poverty” leaves the reader in no doubt as to Mr. George’s meaning, and thus fulfils the primary condition of honest literature. Nor will any one question the author’s intense conviction that the adoption of his panacea will cure the ills under which the modern state groans.

Mr. George’s political philosophy is, in principle, though by no means in all its details, identical with Rousseauism. It exhibits, in perfection, the same a priori method, starting from highly questionable axioms which are assumed to represent absolute truth, and asking us to upset the existing arrangements of society on the faith of deductions from those axioms. The doctrine of “natural rights” is the fulcrum upon which he, like a good many other political philosophers, during the last 130 years, rests the lever wherewith the social world is to be lifted away from its present foundations and deposited upon others. In this respect, he is at one, not only with Rousseau and his conscious or unconscious followers in France and in England; but, I regret to say, may claim the countenance of a far more scientifically minded and practical school of political thinkers‚—that of the French Physiocrates of the eighteenth century.

The founder of this school, Quesnay, the sagacious physician of Louis the Fifteenth, whom even that graceless prince appreciated and called his “thinker,” was an eminently practical man, especially conversant with agriculture. As the name taken by his disciples implies, his teaching was, professedly, based upon careful observation of, and induction from, the course of nature, as it bears upon politics. It would hardly be too much to say that we owe to the Physiocrates the modern clearness of conviction that the world of human society is as much the theatre of order and definite sequence of cause and effect as the world of extra-human nature; that there are rules of action, the observance of which brings about prosperity, while their neglect entails ruin, which have nothing to do with the laws of morality or with the ordinances of religion; and that the wicked who follow these rules will not beg their bread, while the pious who neglect them will. But Quesnay and his followers would have been more than mortal if they had escaped the influence of the spirit of their age; and though they never fell into the speculative monstrosities of Rousseau, yet, about the time that the latter was occupied with his essay on “Inequality,” Quesnay composed that short work entitled “Le Droit Naturel,” which is all too largely infected by the à priori method.

Quesnay begins by laying down the proposition that “Natural Right” may be “vaguely defined” as “the right which a man has to the things which are fit for his enjoyment.” Truly a vague enough definition, and one that would need a great deal more defining before it could be safely turned to any practical account. Quesnay’s friend and collaborateur, Dupont de Nemours, in the introductory discourse prefixed to the collection entitled “Physiocratie: ou constitution naturelle du gouvernement le plus avantageux au genre humain,” published in 1768, has somewhat improved upon it. “Natural Right,” he says, is “the right a man has to do that which is to his advantage.” He considers that this right is founded upon the condition that we are “charged with our own preservation under penalty of suffering and death.” And he adds: “The final degree of punishment decreed by this sovereign law is superior to every other interest and to every arbitrary law.” “Natural Right,” then, is the right of a man to do anything necessary for his own preservation, and to possess himself of any means of enjoyment. It is possessed to its full and literal extent by any and every wholly isolated man. “Natural Right,” by this account of it, must vest in the individual before he has entered into the social state, and must be antecedent to all forms of relative justice and injustice. But the contemporaneous and contiguous existence of many such individuals, all of whom assert their natural rights, must also necessarily end in the Hobbesian state of war of each against all, unless they agree to conventions which shall allow to each his natural right to things enjoyable; or, in other words, his freedom to profit by the advantages which he is competent to obtain from the order of nature.[1]

There seems to me to be a wonderful admixture of wholesome truth and of very unwholesome fiction in these propositions; and, as is not uncommon, the fiction has become popular while the truth is neglected. Indeed, Quesnay himself saw deeper than his disciple, and writes thus in the opening chapter of the treatise I have cited (Daire, p. 41):—

“He who has said that the natural right of man is a nullity has spoken truly.
He who has said that the natural right of man is the right which nature teaches to all animals has spoken truly.[2]
He who has said that the natural right of man is the right which his strength and his intelligence assure him has spoken truly.
He who has said that natural right is limited to the private interest of each man has spoken truly.
He who has said that natural right is a general and sovereign law, which regulates the rights of all men, has spoken truly.
He who has said that the natural right of men is the unlimited right of all to everything has spoken truly.
He who has said that the natural right of men is a right limited by a tacit or explicit convention has spoken truly.
He who has said that natural right has nothing to do with either justice or injustice has spoken truly.[3]

He who has said that natural right is a just, decisive, and fundamental right, has spoken truly.
But none has spoken truly in relation to all cases.”

What is one to make of this litany of antinomies? Quesnay himself seems to have been content to leave the riddle unanswered‚—while his successors do not appear to have understood that there was a riddle to answer. Each proposition may certainly be plausibly justified, and yet contradicts, or is hard to reconcile with, some other. Now, when this is the case, we may be pretty sure that the difficulty arises from some ambiguity of language. If “Natural Right” is susceptible of these opposing predicates, it must be that it stands for two or more widely different ideas. I propose to endeavour to show that this solution of the difficulty is correct.

Some time ago I fell in with an Indian tiger story of a peculiarly gruesome sort, and I repeat the substance of it, not from any especial love for horrible stories, but because the tale led me, and therefore may easily lead my readers, into a train of fruitful reflections upon this very question of “Natural Rights.”

A tigress carried off an unfortunate Indian villager‚—as a cat may carry off a mouse‚—without doing the man any mortal injury. Tracked to her lair in the jungle, the brute was seen to set down the half-disabled captive before her cubs, who commenced mumbling and mauling him to the best of their infantine ability, while the tender mother complacently watched their clumsy efforts to deal with the big game she had brought home. But, if the man, driven desperate, succeeded for a moment in beating off his small tormentors and crawling away a few yards, a judiciously administered grip with the thoughtful parent’s strong jaws, or a cuff from her heavy and sharp-clawed paw, at once reduced the victim to a state in which the cubs could safely resume their worrying and scratching.

I suppose that no one in whose imagination these words suffice to body forth a vision of the thing will fail to be horrified at the apparently wanton infliction of such grievous mental and bodily torture upon a harmless peasant; nor think, without satisfaction, of the justice done by the rifle-shots that eventually laid the tigress and her ferocious progeny low. The assertion that the tigress had a “natural right” to do what she did, or that she and her cubs were justified by the “Law of Nature” in their course of action, will perhaps seem to most a monstrous, if not a wicked, doctrine. Yet this very doctrine is implicitly inculcated in one of the most familiar works of an author from whom the youthful mind half a century ago derived its earliest impressions of ethics; and also, unfortunately, of poetry. The young people of that day were taught to repeat:

“Let dogs delight to bark and bite,
For ’tis their nature to;
Let bears and lions growl and fight,
For God hath made them so.”

As poetry, this pious doggerel is undoubtedly nought. But, as moral philosophy, ripe, nay even aged reflection must, I think, satisfy us that it is not only sound, but has the merit of putting the case in a nutshell. For, whatever tigers and tigresses may be and do, it is quite clear, if we adopt the creative hypothesis and believe that God made them, that He “made them so.” The acts which we are pleased to denounce as wantonly cruel are, therefore, necessary and intentional consequences of the divine creative operation. In fact, if there is evidence of intention anywhere in the fabric of things, the study of the structure of one of the cats, great or small, will prove it to be a machine most admirably adapted to slay and tear to pieces other living quadrupeds; and will demonstrate that, if it was intended to do anything, it must have been intended to perform exactly that butcher’s work which it executes so well.

On the other hand, if we prefer to say no more than there is good evidence for saying, it is unquestionably true that the “nature” or innate tendency of the whole race of tigers is to prey on other large animals, men included, inasmuch as not only is their bodily and mental constitution especially fitted for that operation, but since they must perish if they fail to perform it. Tigers (as M. Dupont says of men) are charged with their own preservation under penalty of death. Moreover, when we inquire into the past history of these predaceous animals, we find that the cats, great and small, are but the last term of a long series of species of animals most of which are now extinct; which have succeeded one another through the tertiary epoch, therefore, for many thousands, or more probably millions, of years; and which, in their capacity of butchering machines, have undergone a steady though slow and gradual improvement, every step of which has been effected at the expense of an enormous total of suffering to the animals butchered. If, then, we deny that tigers have a natural right to torment and devour men, we really impeach, not the conduct of the tigers, but the order of nature. And if we ourselves, with our notions of right and wrong, are, like the tigers, products of that order, whence comes our competence to deny the exercise of their natural rights to those beings who stand upon the same foundation of natural right as ourselves? To say that a thing exists in nature and to say that it has a natural right to existence are, in fact, merely two ways of stating the same truth; which is that, in nature, fact and justification of the fact, or, in other words, might and right, are coextensive. To be and to have a natural right to be, to possess a faculty and to have the natural right to exert it, are all one. Thus, it really must be admitted that the hymnologist of my childish days has reason on his side. Whether children’s little hands “were made to tear each other’s eyes” or not, it does not lie with us to object to tigers, any more than to dogs, or bears, or lions, growling and fighting as their natures dictate. Beyond a doubt, by the “Law of Nature,” which is the foundation of “natural right,” the cats and their carnivorous allies are justified.

Having thus established the “rights of tigers” to the exercise and enjoyment of the faculties with which nature has endowed them, it will be interesting to follow out the logical development of the doctrine, such as might be expected from a thoroughgoing advocate of those rights. It is admitted that a tiger has a natural right to eat a man; but if he may eat one man he may eat another, so that a tiger has a right of property in all men, as potential tiger-meat. Men are as much the “gratuitous offering” of nature to tigers for their subsistence, or part subsistence, as fruits are to men. But any one tiger has no more natural right of property in men than any other tiger. All tigers are free to eat any man they can seize: and, if two tigers are sneaking along through the jungle on opposite sides of a footpath, their rights to the villager, who, travelling thereby, fondly imagines he is going home, are equal. So that we may safely enunciate the conclusion that all tigers have an equal natural right to eat all men.

I think it would be difficult to object to this argument on purely logical grounds; and the conclusions to which we are forced appear startling enough; but here we stop. If the advocate of the “rights of tigers” attempts to drive us into the further admission that, as tigers have a right to eat men, it is wrong of men to put obstacles in the way of their having their rights by refusing to be eaten, we protest against the doctrine, not on the low and selfish ground of mere personal interest, but because, however plausible, it is a patent fallacy. The champion of the “rights of tigers” has, in fact, made a convenient, though unwarrantable, jump from one sense of the word “right” to another‚—from “natural right” to “moral right.” No doubt, he who hinders or refuses to admit a moral right is morally wrong‚—unjust, or, if you will, wicked. But very little consideration will show that hindrance or denial of “natural rights” may not only be far from wrong, but is, in fact, a necessary consequence of the existence of such “natural rights.” Grant that the tiger kills and eats men in the exercise of his natural right to preserve his own existence, and to do that for which nature has expressly fitted him; it is no less true that men kill tigers in the exercise of their equal natural right to preserve their existence. If the tiger is entitled by the law of nature to use his claws and teeth and soft-footed stealthy cleverness for the purpose of his self-preservation, the man may employ his hands and the weapons they are so admirably adapted to fabricate and wield, and use his still greater cunning, in tracking and stalking tigers to the like end.

Thus the natural rights of tigers and the natural rights of men, though quite indisputable and alike safely founded on the “Law of Nature,” are diametrically opposed to one another. It follows, therefore, that they are rights to which no correlative duties correspond‚—rights of which the exercise may be impeded, or prevented, without the perpetration of wrong. And that is just the difference between “natural laws and rights” on the one hand, and “moral and civil laws and rights” on the other. Moral laws and civil laws are commands of an authority which may be disobeyed; but the sanctioning authority threatens and visits with penalties those who disobey. “Thou shalt not steal,” the negative form of the recognition of rights of property, is both a moral and a civil law. It rests on the authority either of a Deity, or on that of conscience, or on that of some civil person whose dominion is recognised; and its sanction, or penalty, incurred by disobedience, is hell, or remorse, or imprisonment, or all three.

The proper object and effect of moral and civil laws are to benefit all who are subjected to them by bringing about a state of peace and mutual confidence‚—the laws restraining each individual from acts which are hurtful and encouraging those which are beneficial to the polity of which he is a member. On the contrary, the “Law of Nature” is not a command to do, or to refrain from doing, anything. It contains, in reality, nothing but a statement of that which a given being tends to do under the circumstances of its existence; and which, in the case of a living and sensitive being, it is necessitated to do, if it is to escape certain kinds of disability, pain, and ultimate dissolution. The natural right deduced from such a law of nature is simply a way of stating the fact; and there is, in the nature of things, no reason why a being possessing such and such tendencies to action should not carry them into effect. Confused with moral and civil laws and translated into the language of command, the law of nature would bid the individual: “Do what you will, so far as you can.” But it is only inexactly and by way of metaphor, that we can speak of disobedience to a law of nature or of penalties for such disobedience. If, by impossibility, a tiger were to have an attack of the philozoic and vegetarian fanaticism which is going about, and to declare that he would neither kill, nor eat flesh, any more, he would undoubtedly undergo a lingering and painful death by starvation. But there is neither disobedience nor penalty here. The laws of nature are statements of tendencies, and if one law expresses the truth, that tigers which kill and eat will live and wax fat, another expresses the converse truth, that if tigers do not kill and eat, they will wax lean and die. The results are consequences of two modes of action, both of which are in accordance with natural law (or they could not occur) and not rewards or penalties. Indeed, that they cannot be the latter is clear from the further truth, that the tiger who has grown old in doing his best to fulfil the first “law of nature,” as with age his limbs grow stiff and his tusks wear down, falls, very much against his will, under the second “law” and dies as miserably of starvation as if he had refused to kill and eat on the loftiest of antivivisection and vegetarian principles.

The crown of the differences between the “law of nature” with its consequent “natural rights” and moral or civil laws lies in this: that consistent and thoroughgoing action, based upon the law of nature and the natural rights which flow from it, tends to benefit the individual at the expense of all other individuals whose needs and desires are of the same kind; and, so far from bringing about a state of peace among such individuals, necessitates a state of war‚—that is to say of either conscious or unconscious competition among them. The ceaseless and pitiless “struggle for existence” which obtains throughout the whole world of living things is, in truth, the inevitable consequence of the circumstance that each living being strives knowingly, or ignorantly, to exert all its powers for the satisfaction of its needs; and asserts a tacit claim to possess (to the exclusion of other beings) all the space on the earth’s surface which it can occupy and to appropriate all the subsistence which it can utilise.[4] The state of sentient nature, at any given time, is the resultant of the momentarily balanced oppositions of millions upon millions of individuals, each doing its best to get all it can and to keep what it gets; each, in short, zealously obeying the law of nature and fighting tooth and nail for its natural rights. This is the ne plus ultra of individualism; and, wherever individualism has unchecked sway, a polity can no more exist than it can among the tigers who inhabit the same jungle. It is, in fact, the sum of all possible anti-social and anarchic tendencies.

Even among tigers (or at any rate tigresses), however, pure individualism does not always dominate. When the tigress has brought forth her cubs, and while she is nourishing, protecting, and training them, she and they enter into an association, formed of individuals held together by the attraction of the instincts which constitute the animal basis of sympathy, and thus constitute a polity, however small its scale and short its duration. And it will be observed that this most rudimentary of polities, the family, could not exist without the renouncement, on the part of the tigress at least, of some of the “Rights of Tigers.” The tigress no longer acts upon her natural right of eating all she kills, for example; she acts as if she were conscious of duties towards her cubs. The cubs, on the other hand, are fond and more or less obedient, acting as if they had correlative duties towards their parent. It will not be supposed, I hope, that I suggest that either tigress or cubs are capable of entertaining moral ideas; all that I desire to point out is that, partly by instinct, partly by the effects of very simple experiences, both sides perform acts which a more developed intelligence symbolises by these moral ideas.

I have pointed out in the course of this discussion that among the jurists of old Rome, who first systematically developed the conceptions of the “Law of Nature” and “Natural Rights,” Ulpian rightly judged that brutes came under such law and had such rights, no less than men. It is obvious that, without recurrence to that “state of nature” of mankind, of which so very much is said and so very little known, an individual man, isolated from his fellows and removed from all social relations, comes under the same law of nature; and has “natural rights” in exactly the same sense as the individual tiger possesses them. Before the advent of man Friday, Robinson Crusoe’s right and might were coextensive, except in so far as he might be influenced by remembrance of the moral and civil laws of his former social existence. There was no reason why he should abstain from doing anything it pleased him to do, and which lay within the scope of his natural faculties. No one would deny that he had a natural right to take possession of his cave; to cut down the trees that suited his purpose; to gather fruits; to kill any of the wild goats for his subsistence; to shoot any number of the cannibal visitors, who would otherwise kill him for their subsistence. Crusoe’s “natural rights” thus potentially extended over the whole island and everything in it. According to the law of nature as defined by Quesnay, he was owner of everything therein which he desired and was able to appropriate. Suppose, however, that another wreck had simultaneously cast Will Atkins upon the opposite shore, and that Atkins had established himself there in Crusoe’s fashion; then it is plain that the law of nature would confer upon him rights no less extensive. Crusoe and Atkins, stalking the same goat from opposite sides, would have been in a position identical with that of two tigers in the jungle, slinking after the same Hindoo, so far as the law of nature is concerned. And if each insisted upon exerting the whole of his natural rights, it is clear that there would be nothing for it but to fight for the goat. In the case of the men, as in that of the brutes, extreme and logical individualism means isolation and the state of war; it is plainly incompatible with the peace and co-operation which are the essentials of even temporary association. On the other hand, if the two men followed the dictates of the commonest common sense, not less than those of natural sympathy, they would at once agree to unite in peaceful co-operation with each other, for their mutual comfort and protection. And that would be possible only if each agreed to limit the exercise of his natural rights so far as they might involve any more damage to the other than to himself. This is to say, the two men would, in reality, renounce the law of nature, and put themselves under a moral and civil law, replacing natural rights, which have no wrongs, for moral and civil rights, each of which has its correlative wrong. This, I take it, is the root of truth which saves the saying of Paul of Tarsus that “sin came by the law” from being a paradox. The solitary, individual man, living merely under the so-called law of nature, which cannot be violated, and having rights the contradictions of which are not wrongs, cannot sin. Wrong-doing becomes possible only when, by associating with another man, or other men, for peace and co-operation, the individual becomes implicitly, or explicitly, bound to observe certain rules of conduct in relation to him or them; any violation of these rules is a wrong.

Probably none of the political delusions which have sprung from the “natural rights” doctrine has been more mischievous than the assertion that all men have a natural right to freedom, and that those who willingly submit to any restriction of this freedom, beyond the point determined by the deductions of à priori philosophers, deserve the title of slave. But to my mind, this delusion is incomprehensible except as the result of the error of confounding natural with moral rights. It is undoubtedly true that a man, like a tiger or any other animal, has a natural right to freedom, if by that phrase we merely mean that, so far as he is a mere individual being, there is no reason why he should not do what he pleases. But that is a very harmless proposition, and neither despot nor slave-owner need boggle at it. If, on the other hand, the champion of freedom means, as he usually does, that the natural right to freedom affords, in itself, a ground for objecting to this or that restraint upon the liberties of men who form a polity, the argument appears to me to be as sophistical as it is mischievous. For, as we have seen, it is a necessary condition of social existence that men should renounce some of their freedom of action; and the question of how much is one that can by no possibility be determined à priori. That which it would be tyranny to prevent in some states of society it would be madness to permit in others. The existence of a polity depends upon the adjustment of the two sets of forces which its component units, the individual men, obey‚—the repulsive of natural right, and the attractive and coactive of individual sympathy and corporate dominion. Which of them ought to predominate at any given time must surely depend upon external and internal circumstances and upon the degree of development of the polity. The Duke of Wellington is said to have defined martial law as “the will of the Commander-in-Chief for the time being”‚—that is to say, it is the sweeping away of all “rights,” natural, civil, and moral, except so far as they are sanctioned by the commander. Yet, surely, no one but a lunatic can maintain that, in case of invasion, or rebellion, threatening the social person‚—the polity‚—with destruction, that composite man has not as much natural right to take any measure essential to self-preservation, as an individual man has under the law of nature. And from this extreme case, to the petty question, as to whether the depositary of dominion in a polity has or has not the right to infringe the “natural right” of a man to leave the path in front of his house unswept of snow, there is an endless gradation in the importance of the problems, all of which can be solved only by the application of the same principles. Is it, or is it not, for the welfare of society at that time and under those circumstances‚—looking at the question all round and taking fully into account the disadvantages of restraint of liberty‚—that its members should be compelled to do this, or be restrained from doing that?

The political delusions which spring from the ‘natural rights’ doctrine are multitudinous; but I think there is only one more which is worth attention at present. That is the extraordinary notion that the logical consequence of the “natural right” of all men to any given thing is the sharing of the rights of property in that thing equally among all the claimants. Let us suppose two boys, John and Peter. I take an apple out of my pocket, and I say, “This apple is entirely yours, John; and, Peter, it is also entirely yours. The whole apple belongs to each of you, and you have each a right to eat the whole of it. Now, my boys, you may eat it, so long as neither of you gives up any fraction of the right I have given him nor infringes the other’s right.” The boys, I take it, would be somewhat puzzled. If their common sense, plus their appetites, were stronger than their logical faculty, they would probably suggest that they should divide the apple and each eat half. But I should have to say “No. You are violating my conditions‚—which were that you should neither of you give up any portion of his right to the whole. The arrangement you propose necessitates that John should give up his right to one half, and Peter his right to the other.” Not improbably, my young friends, if of English extraction, might propose another way out of the difficulty; namely, the wager of battle. But again I should have to refuse. The trial by battle would unfortunately involve the infringement of the natural rights of the vanquished by the victor, which is, once more contrary to my stipulation. In fact; under the conditions stated, the apple would have to remain uneaten.

Thus we see once more, that the absolute “natural rights” theory‚—that is to say individualism pure and simple‚—if carried out logically is merely reasoned savagery, utter and unmitigated selfishness, incompatible with social existence. And this would be obvious to every one, were it not that the ambiguous sense of the word “rights” gives a moral colour to human relations which are neither moral nor immoral, but, as Quesnay rightly says, antecedent to morality.

My readers may imagine that I have forgotten “Progress and Poverty.” By no means; the preceding pages must, in fact, be regarded as a sort of “Prolegomena” to that work and especially to the first chapter of the seventh book, which contains the theoretical foundation of the practical measure which its author advocates.

According to Mr. George, society is very ill; and he proposes a method of treatment professedly based upon strict deduction from the principles of absolute political physiology. Whether the remedy is calculated to achieve the results predicted, or not, is a question I shall not now discuss; but it will be admitted that it is drastic, consisting as it does in neither more nor less than the eviction of all several landowners and the confiscation of that which is, and, for many centuries has been, regarded as their undoubted property. The measure is of exactly the same order as would be the confiscation of the interest of all money belonging to working-men in savings banks, on the ground that interest, as usury, is contrary to the principles of absolute ethics‚—an opinion which it must be remembered has been (perhaps still is) supported by papal infallibility; which is, at least, equal in weight to the philosophical species of that commodity. Surely the medicine is a strong medicine. Now I humbly submit, that while one might take Epsom salts, on the recommendation of the first old woman who proposed that remedy for a sick headache, a rational man would like to have clearly intelligible reasons, or extremely trustworthy authority, before he ventured with an equally light heart, upon croton oil or tartar emetic. The latter might certainly put an end to his sick headache‚—but what if at the same time it put an end to him? So, it is at any rate possible, that the expropriation of landowners, while it might put an end to a state of things inconsistent with the principles of absolute political ethics, might also destroy the society it strove to heal. Therefore, I think we are bound to see that Mr. George’s “absolute” principles are “absolutely” true before we act upon even the most logical of deductions from them. Without presumption, it may be said to be just possible that the principles may be unsound and the deductions fallacious.

In the chapter to which I have referred, the author sets out by putting the question, What constitutes the rightful basis of property? And I have conscientiously endeavoured to set forth, accurately, the essentials of his answer in the following abstract of it.

1. All men have equal rights:

“The laws of nature are the decrees of the Creator. There is written in them no recognition of any right save that of labour; and in them is written broadly and clearly the equal right of all men to the use and enjoyment of Nature; to apply to her by their exertions and to receive and possess her reward. Hence, as Nature gives only to labour, the exertion of labour in production is the only title to exclusive possession.” (“Progress and Poverty,” 1889, p. 237.)

II. There is no foundation for any rightful title to ownership except this: That a man has a right to himself; to the use of his own powers; to the enjoyment of the fruit of his own exertions (p. 236); therefore, to whatsoever he makes or produces.

III. The right to that which is produced is “vested” in the producer by natural law (p. 236). It is also a “fundamental law of Nature that her enjoyment by man shall be consequent upon his exertion” (p. 241).

IV. Land is a gratuitous offering of Nature, not a thing produced by labour (p. 238); all men therefore have equal rights to it (p. 239). These rights are inalienable, as existing men cannot contract away the rights of their successors (p. 240). Every infant who comes into the world has as good a right to landed estates as their present possessors, by whom he is, in fact, robbed of his share (p. 240).

This, I believe, is a complete, if a succinct, statement of Mr. George’s case. And I, for one, am quite prepared to admit that, if it can be sustained, the sooner the foundations of our present polity are broken up and replaced by something less open to objection, the better. But even Mr. George, I imagine, will admit that the enterprise is grave, and by no means to be undertaken with a light heart, still less with that superficial intellectual apprehension which comes of a light head. The political philosopher who uses his à priori lever, knowing that it may stir up social discord, without the most conclusive justification, to my mind comes perilously near the boundary which divides blunders from crimes.

The several elements of the proposition which I have quoted under I. might have been taken almost verbatim from the writings of the Rousseauites and the Physiocrats. But it is one of the most interesting features of à priori speculation, that different philosophers, starting from verbally identical propositions, arrive at contradictory conclusions. And the Physiocrats deduced the right and the necessity of maintaining several ownership of land from the principles common to them and Mr. George, as confidently as, and, in my judgment, with much better reason than, Mr. George deduces its hideous wrongfulness and the paramount necessity of abolishing it. The equality of men question has already been sufficiently discussed. If, as I maintain, there is no such thing as natural equality among men, then of course any argument based upon it is necessarily worthless. From the fact that men are unequal it cannot well be concluded that they have “equal rights to the use and enjoyment of nature.”

Passing from this point, we are met by the broad assertion that “the exertion of labour in production is the only title to exclusive possession.” So far Mr. George is at one with the Physiocrats, who also rest the claim to ownership on labour bestowed. Let us consider the grounds upon which Mr. George rests this assertion. We need not trouble ourselves whether they are the same or different from those set forth by his predecessors.

The following questions and answers enlighten us on this head.

“What constitutes the rightful basis of property? What is it that enables a man to say justly of a thing, “It is mine”? Is it not, primarily, the right of a man to himself, to the use of his own powers, to the enjoyment of the fruits of his own exertions?” (“Progress and Poverty,” p. 236.)

And, on the same page, we are told that the title to everything produced by human exertions “descends from the original producer, in whom it is vested by natural law.” Here we are back again on the ground of the “law of nature” and “natural rights,” according to which, as we have seen, a man has a right to keep anything he is strong enough to keep, whether he has produced it or not. But the law of nature affords not the least reason why another man who is stronger should not take his possession away from him.

As I have already fully shown, there is not the least connection between the natural rights of the solitary individual and the moral or civil rights of the man who has entered into association with others. A man may justly say that it is no more than the “use of his own powers,” to knock another down and rob him of his dinner; and that it is no more than “the enjoyment of the fruits of his own exertions” to proceed to eat that dinner. Is it pretended that the man who has entered into association with others retains those “natural rights”?

But let us assume, for the sake of argument, not only that labour is the “only” title to exclusive possession, but that the foundation of this title lies in the right of a man to himself; and in which is, somewhat sophistically, included the right to the use of his own powers and the enjoyment of the fruits of his own exertions. If we try to believe both these propositions at once, surely we fall into perplexities worse than any that have yet befallen us. If labour is the only title to exclusive possession; if, for example, there can be no exclusive possession of cultivated land simply and solely because, according to Mr. George, it is not a product of labour‚—propositions on the axiomatic certainty of which the whole fabric of “Progress and Poverty” rests‚—how in the world does a man come by the “right to himself”? I have paid a good deal of attention to those branches of natural history which treat more especially of man, but never yet have I come across even the smallest grounds for believing that a man has ever been known to make himself, or to endow himself by his own labour with the powers he exerts. I have heard often enough of men who were said to be self-made. Indeed, I have known some cases in which the fact was alleged in justification of the ways of Providence, and for the purpose of shifting the responsibility for the existence of some people on to the right shoulders. But I have always taken this phrase about “self-making” to be a metaphor, and a very foolish one, inasmuch as the men said to be self-made are usually those whom nature has especially favoured with costly gifts and exceptional opportunities. No doubt it may be said, with justice, that a man who learns diligently and strives hard to do right, really bestows labour on himself, and does so far fulfil the necessary conditions of self-ownership laid down in “Progress and Poverty.” But, on the other hand, might not his teachers, on the very same ground, claim possession of the fruits of their labours in him? Might not the mother, who not only bore him, but bore with him, day and night, for half-a-dozen years, fed him, clothed him, nursed him in sickness, taught him the rudiments of civilisation‚—might not she rightfully appeal to this wonderful labour-test of ownership?

Is there any logical way out of the following argumentation, the like of which is perhaps to be found only in “Alice in Wonderland”? The exertion of labour in production is the only title to exclusive possession. No gratuitous offering of Nature can be the subject of such private ownership. Therefore a man can have no exclusive possession of himself, except in so far as he is the product of the exertion of his own labour and not a gratuitous offering of Nature. But it is only a very small part of him which can in any sense be said to be the product of his own labour. The man’s physical and mental tendencies and capacities, dependent to a very large extent on heredity, are certainly the “gratuitous offering of Nature;” if they belong to anybody, therefore, they must belong to the whole of mankind, who must be, so to speak, a kind of collective slave-owners, all of each. So much of the man as depends on the care taken of him in infancy and childhood is the property of his mother, or of those who took her place. Another smaller portion belongs to the people who educated him. What remains is his own. So that the man’s right to himself and to all his powers and to all the fruits of his labour, which the writer of “Progress and Poverty” makes the foundation of his system, turns out, if we follow another fundamental proposition of the same author to its logical consequences, to be a right to a mere fraction of himself and to the exercise of the powers which exclusively belong to that fraction. Surely it would take a greater sage than Solomon to settle the respective claims of mankind in general, the mother and the educators, to the ownership of a child; and when these were satisfied, what might remain in the shape of a right to himself would be hardly big enough to form a safe basis for anything, let alone property.

Unless my readers can see their way better than I can through this logic-chopping maze, we must give up the attempt to reconcile the two fundamental propositions of the system we are discussing: the first, that labour is the “only” title to exclusive possession, and the second, that the foundation of this title lies in the right of a man to himself‚—that is to say to the exclusive possession of himself. What our political philosopher appears to me to mean is this. A man is the exclusive possessor of himself and of the powers with which he is endowed by Nature; therefore he is the exclusive possessor of whatever is brought into existence by the exertion of those powers in the form of labour. On the other hand, a man possesses, exclusively, nothing else than these powers, therefore he cannot be the exclusive possessor of anything but that which they produce. Substantially, as I have said, it is the position taken up by the Physiocrats, and, right or wrong, it is, at any rate, intelligible. But I do not quite see how it is to be proved by any one who disputes it. The statement that a man is the exclusive possessor of himself, even in the sense of bare ownership, is most assuredly not known to be true by intuition‚—as, for example, the proposition that two straight lines will not enclose a space is said to be. The whole ancient Roman world would have cried out against it. For them, a man’s children, grown up or not, no less than his slaves, were so far from being exclusive possessors of themselves that their father could dispose of them as he thought fit. Nor, as far as I know, is there any part of the modern world in which a legal “infant” has the full ownership of himself and the absolute right to the usufruct of his own powers. Again, to the best of my knowledge, there is no country or nation in which an adult man has, or ever had, in any sense, the exclusive possession of himself. On the contrary, the state invariably lays claim to him for the discharge of various military or civil offices, and to more or less of the fruits of his exertions in the shape of rates and taxes for the support of the machinery of external defence and internal protection. In truth, as I have already pointed out, the very existence of society depends on the fact that every member of it tacitly admits that he is not the exclusive possessor of himself, and that he admits the claim of the polity of which he forms a part, to act, to some extent, as his master. I do not think we need discuss, any further, propositions which, as they are stated, are contradictory; and which, when they are remodelled so as to escape such contradiction, fall into the no less fatal difficulty of contradicting plain facts. The axiom that a man has a right to himself, in the sense in which it is used in “Progress and Poverty,” is a baseless assumption of exactly the same order as that other that all men are free and equal.

However, there is no greater mistake than the hasty conclusion that opinions are worthless because they are badly argued. The principle that “the exertion of labour in production is the only title to exclusive possession” has a great deal to say for itself if we only substitute “may be usefully considered to be a” for “is the only.” And, besides this, it will be interesting to trace out its logical consequences, even without such alteration. For we shall find our result to be wonderfully different from that set forth in “Progress and Poverty.” It is there declared to be irreconcilable with exclusive (or several) ownership of land. I think that it will become apparent that it authorises the several ownership of land to exactly the same extent as it does the several ownership of anything else.[5]

Let us consider what “Progress and Poverty” has to say about this question.

“What most prevents the realisation of the injustice of private property in land is the habit of including all the things that are made the subject of ownership in one category, as property … The real and natural distinction is between things which are the produce of labour and things which are the gratuitous offerings of Nature; or, to adopt the terms of political economy, between wealth and land. These two things are in essence and relations widely different, and to class them together as property is to confuse all thought when we come to consider the justice, or the injustice, the right or wrong of property…

The essential character of the one class of things is that they embody labour, are brought into being by human exertion, their existence or non-existence, their increase or diminution, depending on man. The essential character of the other class of things is that they do not embody labour, and exist irrespective of human exertion and irrespective of man, they are the field or environment in which man finds himself; the storehouse from which his needs must be supplied; the raw material upon which and the forces with which his labour alone can act.”‚—(“Progress and Poverty,” pp. 238‚—239.)

The latter kind of property is land, the former all other commodities which constitute men’s possessions; and the latter are said, it will be observed, to be “brought into being by human exertion, their existence or non-existence, their increase or diminution depending on man.” Surely this is an assertion which, though pardonable enough as a common manner of speaking, becomes a glaring fallacy the moment it is regarded as a scientific statement from which the most serious practical consequences are deducible. Can anything whatever, in strict truth, be said to be “brought into being by human exertion”? Let us consider one of the earliest and simplest products of human industry, a flint implement. Probably, its earliest condition was a natural flint nodule, such as one may find on any chalk down, rounded at one end, roughly sharp at the other, and thus convenient to the hand of the savage who picked it up. Now did he thus acquire any right of property in his find or not? He certainly spent no labour upon it, beyond that of taking possession. It was emphatically “a gratuitous offering of Nature,” just as much as the land on which it lay. The existence or the non-existence of flints, their increase or diminution, nowise depends on man; they exist irrespectively of him, their quantity is strictly limited, and no man, by taking thought, can add a flint to those which already exist. If taking possession could give a title to the one thing, why not to the other? But suppose it did not. Let it occur to our forefather that a few knocks with another stone would chip the thin end of his flint to a sharper edge and make it a handier tool or weapon. Let him give those half-dozen blows; then, forsooth, it “embodies labour” and may be said to have been “brought into being by human exertion.” By the sacramental operation of these half-dozen taps, that which previously was the common property of all men has now become several property vested “by natural law” absolutely in one man.

With the gradual improvement of the art of flint chipping, the implement advanced from the rough, hardly modified, natural nodule to the exquisitely symmetrical and delicate axe, or spear, or arrow head, of a subsequent epoch, or to the still more finished ground axes of yet later date. The quantity of labour invested in each implement, therefore, steadily increased, as time went on, in proportion to the quantity of the raw flint. But the latter was always there. The assertion that the most perfected and artificial of these implements is “brought into being by human exertion,” becomes a gross error if it leads us to forget that, without the peculiar physical properties of the flint, which are emphatically “the gratuitous offering of nature,” any amount of human exertion would be thrown away.

What is true in this extremely simple case, is true of everything which is said to be produced by human industry. In all such things there is something‚—a bundle of natural qualities and powers which exists irrespective of human exertion‚—and something, a shaping and modification of the bundle, which is the effect of human exertion. It is only the relative proportion of the two which varies.[6] A man who hurls a stone loads it with a dose of labour which evaporates when the missile strikes its object, and the stone returns to its previous condition of a mere offering of Nature. A man who slices the same stone and cuts a cameo out of the slice, permanently incorporates an enormous amount of labour with it.

In the one case, the “gratuitous offering” is at a maximum, in the other at a minimum; but the foundation in each case is a gift of Nature.

“Progress and Poverty” sets before us the case of a steel pen with much elaboration (p. 236). But the author fails to notice the patent fact that the iron ore, the existence of which is the conditio sine qud non of that of the pen, is a gratuitous offering of Nature. The well-known case of the chronometer balance-wheel spring would have still better exemplified the maximum incorporation of labour with the minimum of “the gratuitous offering.”

Now is there any real difference between land and other things in this respect? In Upper Egypt, I have stood with one foot on soil bearing a rich green crop, and the other on the stony desert, as barren as a brick floor, which extended for hundreds of miles to the westward without supporting so much as a blade of grass. The green crop, in fact, reached exactly as far as the muddy water of the Nile had been carried by the labour of its irrigator. Surely, in this case, the cultivable land “embodies labour” and had no more existence independently of human exertion than the pen or the watch spring.

In the state of nature, I doubt if ten square miles of the surface of the chalk downs of Sussex would yield pickings enough to keep one savage for a year. But, thanks to the human labour bestowed upon it, the same area actually yields, one way or another, to the agriculturist the means of supporting many men. If labour is the foundation of the claim to several ownership, on what pretext can the land, in this case also, be put upon a different footing from the steel pen? The same argument holds good for even the richest soil in the west of North America or in the south of Russia. In the natural state of such land, the savage hunter needs access to a vast area in order to make even a precarious livelihood. The labour spent upon it is an important factor in bringing about its rich harvests.

If we keep these simple and obvious truths in mind, the value of the following argument will be readily appraised:—

“The right to exclusive ownership of anything of human production is clear. No matter how many the hands through which it has passed, there was at the beginning of the line, human labour‚—some one who, having procured or produced it by his exertions, had to it a clear title as against all the rest of mankind, and which could justly pass from one to another by sale or gift.”[7]

Suppose, however, that we let this go and proceed to the next sentence:—

“But at the end of what string of conveyances or grants can be shown or supposed a like title to any part of the material universe?”

Well, but surely all “human productions,” from the roughest flint implement to the most exquisite chronometer, are “parts of the material universe”? We have seen that man cannot make flints; nor can he make the iron, or gold, or sodium, or silicon, which enters into the structure of the watch or the pen. His most consummate art is but a moving into certain places of the material universe with which Nature supplies him at least as gratuitously as she supplies land.

What then becomes of the next part of the argument?

“To improvements such an original title can be shown, but it is a title only to the improvements and not to the land itself. If I clear a forest, drain a swamp, or fill a morass, all I can justly claim is the value given by these exertions. They give me no right to the land itself, no claim other than to my equal share with every other member of the community in the value which is added to it by the growth of the community.”

By a parity of reasoning, it would seem that I might say to a chronometer maker: “The gold and the iron of this timepiece, and in fact, all the substances out of which it is constructed, are parts of the material universe, therefore the property of mankind at large. It is very true that your skill and labour have made a wonderful piece of mechanism out of them; but these are only improvements. Now you are quite entitled to claim the improvements, but you have no right to the gold and the iron‚—these belong to mankind.”

The watchmaker might reasonably think the task set before him as difficult as that imposed upon Shylock, when he was told that he was entitled to have his pound of flesh, but that he must shed no blood in cutting it out. He might urge that for all practical purposes the “improvements” are the chronometer, while the gratuitous offering of Nature in the shape of raw material is relatively insignificant. To the ordinary mind there seems to be a great deal of sanity in this contention: not so to our political philosopher.

“But it will be said: ‘There are improvements which in time become indistinguishable from the land itself!’ Very well; then the title to the improvements becomes blended with the title to the land: the individual right is lost in the common right. It is the greater that swallows up the less, not the less that swallows up the greater. Nature does not proceed from man, but man from Nature, and it is unto the bosom of Nature that he and all his works must return again.” (p. 243.)

What answer is appropriate to such stuff as this but Mr. Burchell’s famous, if unpolite, monosyllable, “Fudge”?

It is one of the special characteristics of the à priori school to assume the exact truth of any currently received proposition which is convenient for the business of deductive brain-spinning. But every one who is conversant with things, and not merely with what is more or less properly said about things, is aware that most widely received propositions, even in many branches of physical science, may be only approximately true; and that if a chain of deductions of unusual weight is to be suspended from any of them, it is highly needful to examine it afresh, in order to see whether it will bear the strain‚—whether, in fact, it is accurate enough for the new purpose to which it is to be put. For ordinary purposes, a foot rule is an accurate measure, but it does not follow that it will suffice for ascertaining the exact length of the base line of a trigonometrical survey.

In this very case of the ownership of land, Mr. George essentially agrees with the Physiocrats who declared agriculture to be the only really productive industry, because land alone produces the food-stuffs by which men maintain their existence. In a rough and ready sense this is true, and it would be pedantic to object to it. But when such a statement is taken as the peg on which to hang deductions which end in grave practical consequences, it is needful to re-examine it thoroughly. And an elementary knowledge of the realities of the case enables one to see that, in any but a popular sense, the proposition is untrue. In a strictly scientific sense, the soil is no more a producer than air and water and sunshine are; indeed, is altogether less important than they as a condition of production. For food-plants, which are the producers and the only producers of foodstuffs properly so called, could not possibly get on without air, water, and sunshine, though they might do without soil. It would be possible to grow a crop of food-plants, no part of which had ever been in contact with the soil. On the other hand, the richest of soils may be as barren as the desert in regard to economic production‚—for the simple reason that it is occupied by a luxuriant growth of plants that are not producers of foodstuffs adapted to human needs.

The “gratuitous offering of Nature” in the shape of a hundred acres of tropical forest would be of not much more use to a savage than the like area of a gorse common.

We have all this time been occupied with the eleven pages‚—not very large pages either‚—which make up the first chapter of the seventh book of “Progress and Poverty”; but there are more fallacies than pages, and I have not yet done with them. Indeed, like a careful entertainer, I have saved some of the best for the last. Here is a very fine one:—

“The Almighty, who created the earth for man, and man for the earth, has entailed it upon all the generations of the children of men by a decree written upon the constitution of things‚—a decree which no human action can bar and no prescription determine.” (p. 240.)

One would think that the utterer of these “prave ‘ords” had been the conveyancer who effected the entail of which he speaks thus confidently. Big-sounding but empty phrases may be the making of a stump-orator; but what is to be said of them in the mouth of a professed thinker? And what is the practical outcome of this tall talk?

“Though his titles have been acquiesced in by generation after generation, to the landed estates of the Duke of Westminster, the poorest child that is born in London to-day has as much right as his eldest son. Though the sovereign people of the State of New York consent to the landed possessions of the Astors, the puniest infant that comes wailing into the world in the squalidest room of the most miserable tenement house, becomes at that moment seized of an equal right with the millionaires. And it is robbed if the right is denied. (p. 240.)

Landowners can make no just claim to compensation if society choose to resume its right. (“Progress and Poverty,” Preface. p. vii.)

Who would not be proud to be able to orate in this fashion? Whose heart would not beat high at the tempest of cheers which would follow stirring words like these addressed to needy and ignorant men? How should the impassioned speaker’s ear be able to catch a tone as of the howl of hungry wolves among the cheers? Why should he care that his stirring words might stir up the plain enough conclusion: Well, if these things are all ours as much as theirs, and we are the stronger, why do we not take our own, and that at once? What harm in robbing robbers?

Well, whether exhortations in this style are legitimate or not, this much is certain‚—that, as I hinted before, it is desirable to make very sure of your ground before proceeding to such extremities. Many years ago I heard of an Englishman who had gone to see the Coliseum at Rome by moonlight. He had been warned that the place was haunted by thieves, and was on the alert. Sure enough, a man brushed hastily past him, and the Englishman, looking back, saw a watch in his hand. Without more ado, our countryman, being a prompt sort of person, knocks the fellow down, captures the watch, and makes off to his hotel, lest there should be accomplices about. And, lo! when he is safe in his room he finds he has two watches.

I am disposed to think that the communities who follow out Mr. George’s suggestions will find themselves, on Mr. George’s own principles, in the position of our too ready-fisted Briton. For, according to Mr. George, that deed of entail which he should have somewhere in a tin box in his office, confers the land upon “all the generations of the children of men.” Hence it follows that the London infant has no more title to the Duke of Westminster’s land, and the New York baby no more to Messrs. Astor’s land, than the child of a North American squaw, of a native Australian, or of a Hottentot. Property of the community, forsooth! What right has any community, from a village to a nation, to several property in land more than an individual man has?

Natural justice can recognise no right in one [body of men] to the possession and enjoyment of land that is not equally the right of all [their] fellows.” (p. 240.)

Does it make any difference to the validity of this proposition if I substitute the words in italics for the actual words “man” and “his”? So the splendid prospect held out to the poor and needy is a mere rhetorical mirage; and they have been cheated out of their cheers by mere “bunkum.” Consider the effect of a sober and truthful statement of what the orating person really meant or, according to his own principles, ought to mean; say of such a speech as this:—

“My free and equal fellow countrymen, there is not the slightest doubt that not only the Duke of Westminster and the Messrs. Astor, but everybody who holds land from the area of a thousand square miles to that of a tablecloth, and who, against all equity, denies that every pauper child has an equal right to it, is a Robber. (Loud and long-continued cheers; the audience, especially the paupers, standing up and waving hats.) But, my friends, I am also bound to tell you that neither the pauper child, nor Messrs. Astor, nor the Duke of Westminster, have any more right to the land than the first nigger you may meet, or the Esquimaux at the north end of this great continent, or the Fuegians at the south end of it. Therefore, before you proceed to use your strength in claiming your rights and take the land away from these usurping Dukes and robbing Astors, you must recollect that you will have to go shares in the produce of the operation with the four hundred and odd millions of Chinamen, the hundred and fifty millions who inhabit Hindostan, the‚— —(loud and long-continued hisses; the audience, especially the paupers, standing up and projecting handy movables at the orator).


[1] Daire, Physiocrates, Partie première, pp. 19, 20.

[2] In a note Quesnay says: “This is the definition of Justinian.” It would be more accurate, I imagine, to say that it is derived from Ulpian: “Jus naturale est quod natura omnia animalia docuit: nam jus istud non humani generis proprium sed omnium animalium.” It is to the same Roman jurist that we owe the maxim that all men, according to the law of Nature, are equal and free: “Quod ad jus naturale attinet, omnes homines sequales sunt.” “Quum jure naturali omnes liberi nascerentur.” See the exhaustive work of Voigt: Das jus naturale æquum et bonum und jus gentium der Römer, Bd. 1, §56, whence these citations are taken.

[3] In a note Quesnay observes that this is the case of a man alone in a desert island, whose natural right to the products of the island involves neither justice nor injustice, inasmuch as these terms express the relations of two or more persons.

[4] Sixteen centuries ago, Ulpian drew the conclusion that, according to the “jus naturale,” the elements “mare,” “aer,” and, at any rate, “litora,” are the common property of all living things. Isidore of Seville (see Voigt, p. 576), probably founding himself on Ulpian, reckons “communis omnium possessio et omnium una libertas, acquisitio corum quæ eælo, terra marique capiuntur,” as among the natural rights of men.

[5] See the clear recognition of this fact in L’Abbé Baudean’s Première Introduction à la Philosophie Economique, 1771, in Daire’s collection (p. 657). All biens or commodities, including land, are, in the long run, more or less fashioned natural products: “présente de la nature, mais aussi effets de l’art.”

[6] I have long since argued all this out in my Introductory Primer of Science.

[7] Progress and Poverty, p. 242.