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CHAPTER I.

MALTHUS (1766–1834). IN Pitt and Burke, Adam Smith at once obtained followers of his economic policy. In economic theory, Bentham early showed himself at once disciple and critic (Letters on Usury, 1787); but it was not Bentham's political philosophy but William Godwin's that led to the next step. Godwin's two books, Political Justice (January, 1793), and the Enquirer (1797) gave occasion to the Essay of Malthus on Population (1798).

Godwin's Political Justice has little or nothing to do with economics. It is a treatise on Society and Government and their relations to individual men. The ethics are not those of the Moral Sentiments. Godwin follows more closely the lines of Locke, and he has studied Swift, Rousseau, and Helvetius. Though he levies contributions on Hume and to a less extent on Adam Smith, he is no disciple of the latter.

Nevertheless, even in its ethics and political philosophy, his books have points of contact with Adam Smith's. The ruling individualism of the age appeared in both, though in different ways and in different degrees.

Burke in his Vindication of Natural Society, or a View of the Miseries and Evils arising to Mankind from every Species of Artificial Society (1756) had professed to apply to political philosophy the same destructive reasoning which he conceived Bolingbroke to have applied to religion and morals; but the deduction was meant as a reductio ad absurdum. Godwin in all earnestness adopts the thesis of the pseudo-Bolingbroke. Godwin may be said to have extended to political philosophy the doctrines which Adam Smith confined largely to trade. The institutions of society are represented by Adam Smith as hindering the commercial progress of nations ; so in the Political Justice they are conceived as hindering moral and intellectual progress.? Like Adam Smith, Godwin takes deep thought for the independence and originality of men, and distrusts all associations. He would abolish government so far as coercive, and would have no collective organization larger than the parish." Society is to him only an “ aggregation of individuals. Its claims and duties must be the aggregate of their claims and duties, the one no more precarious and arbitrary than the other.” Rousseau is wrong ; civilization has been a benefit and not an evil, but it is not identical with positive institutions, which have been on the contrary an obstacle to all movement and progress.

. “Government, even in its best state, is an evil."

Individuality is of the very essence of human perfection. If as a body we would reach truth, each man of us must be taught to inquire and think for himself, while at the same time communicating his thoughts to others, and getting the benefit of joint as well as independent effort. In any other sense there is no such thing as collective wisdom ; it is “among the most palpable of all impostures." Patriotism, and even universal philanthropy, are too abstract. It is individual men that we are to make happy ; happiness, to be real, must be individual ; and, wherever there are individuals that understand the nature of political justice, there is my country." Political justice itself is simply morality viewed in relation to other men (apeti i apos ētepov); it is “that impartial treatment of every man in matters that relate to his happiness, which is measured solely by a consideration of the properties of the receiver and the capacity of him that bestows." Its impartiality does not make it a special virtue, but is simply the feature common to all

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1 Pol. J. (1793), Bk. VI, 1. 589. 2 Ib., Bk. IV. 11. 215, 216. Ib., V. XXII. 564, 565.

4 Ib., II. II. 90. 5 lb., VIII. 11. 815. In 3rd ed., vol ii. 491, he expressly refers to Rousseau. Cf. ist ed. V. XV. 503.

6 III. vii. 185, 186 ; cf. 3rd ed., IV. 11. 264: “That civilization is a benefit may perhaps be conceded -a sentence not in the ist ed.

7 Pol. J., VIII. VII. 841 seq. ; cf. 3rd ed., vol. ii. 500.

8 1b., V. xxIII. 572, 573 ; cf. IV. II. 212, etc. Godwin's political philosophy is expressed by Shelley in Queen Mab, and (more finely) in the sonnet on Political Greatness.

9 Pol. J., II. iv. 106, 107, V. XVI. 515.

moral acts. “The true standard of the conduct of one man towards another is justice. Justice is a principle which proposes to itself the production of the greatest sum of pleasure or happiness. Justice requires that I should put myself in the place of an impartial spectator of human concerns," without regard to my own predilections. “ Justice is a rule of the utmost universality, and prescribes a specific mode of proceeding in all affairs by which the happiness of a human being may be affected.”ı Political philosophy, therefore, is a branch of ethics. We must not think we can justify political arrangements by referring to their historical origin ; our only standard must be public welfare."

Observe that Justice is now conceived positively instead of (as in Smith and Hume) negatively. Whatever conduct secures the maximum of happiness to the world of men, generally—that is justice. It is not avoidance of injury; it is positive beneficence. Morality, too, is the object for which external freedom from restraints of all kinds is desirable ; if a man have moral qualities, there is little left for him to aspire after. Yet he cannot obtain them without a certain degree of intellectual enlightenment. Eminent virtue implies a large understanding and is inconsistent with stupidity and ignorance? (IV. IV. 259). It is a calculation of consequences, and therefore dependent on perception of truth. Vice is unquestionably no more in the first instance than an error of judgment. But men differ less by nature than by circumstances; and enlightenment may become universal, for there is a “tendency to improvement” in the human race. When men are enlightened, plain living and high thinking will be the order of the day, and the inequalities of riches and poverty that disgrace our present society will disappear of themselves. We shall

1 “Summary of Principles.” Pol. J., 3rd ed., vol. i. p. XXV. ? Vol. i. (3rd ed.) 122, 123. Godwin is in this at one with Bentham.

3 A step beyond Hume, who ranked intellectual excellence with moral virtue. We may compare with this the view of Prof. Perry, that commercial ambition is not “materialistic,” because it involves great mental energy (Pol. Econ. 1891, p. 22).

4 3rd ed., vol. i. 342. The ist ed. is less clear on this point. 5 ist ed., I. VI. 43 sq. and passim.

attain "that simplicity which best corresponds with the real nature and wants of a human being” (VI. VII. 662). The glamour of distinction that leads men to strive after riches would vanish ; and, though we should need more than the necessaries to which Mandeville would limit us, we should need much less than the superfluities of modern wealth. All property would be recognised to be a trust held for the public good, not as now, “a patent entitling one man to dispose of another man's labour" (3rd ed., vol. ii. 309, 311 ; cf. ist, VIII. 1. 788 seq., VIII. 11. 804). The ideal life would be one including work for each of us along with time for relaxation (V. xii. 485); and, if all men worked now, the division of labour and the inventions of machinery would lose their present drawbacks and become pure gain to mankind (Pol. J: VIII. vi. 844 seq.) They would in fact make it possible for all of us to live comfortably, at the cost of only half-an-hour's labour a day. Every one will have enough ; no one will wish to commit the injustice of accumulating property. The only distinctions will be moral and intellectual. Costly gratifications of sense will lose their charm ; sensual desires will be weakened. As the earth becomes filled, men will probably cease to propagate and will live indefinitely long on the earth, instead. Franklin's idea, that mind will one day become omnipotent over matter, will be perhaps so truly realized that we shall conquer the matter of our own bodies, so that the bodily machine shall never wear out. The objection* brought against systems of equality from “the excessive population ” they would cause is thus groundless. Even on lower ground it could be met by the consideration that “things find their level.” population is somehow proportioned to the food, and it will be a long time before the supplies of food will be exhausted. The earth itself may not last so long (VIII. vii. 861). Such is Godwin's theory.

The last conjecture is, no doubt, separable from the main argument. The main argument itself depends on an abstraction. Error, as Malebranche 5 said, is the

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1 Pol. J., VIII. IV. 823. 2 Ib., VIII. 11. 807, VIII. IV. 825.

1b., VIII. 11. 802. 4 The objection was stated and answered in his own way by Condorcet. It was not suggested by English circumstances in particular.

5 Recherche de la vérité, beginning.

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