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the possible state of things is more rational than the actual. Reflection suggests the question, how did the actual state of things come about? it was not always actual. The States of Europe were formed by the breaking up of an empire; and the Whole of which they were once parts still in a sense remains. Europe is commercially in many ways a single State ; but it ought to be frankly so, and adopt free trade everywhere, or frankly the opposite, and resolve itself into States that are closed commercially as well as juridically. The chief end of the State being to establish every citizen securely in his property, it must be commercially closed, or else the anarchy of competitive trade will defeat that object. The claim for free trade is really an unconscious reminiscence of Imperial unity (454). Even now, so far as we have it, it involves a war of all against all, and an attempt of each individual to turn the variations in the value of money to his gain, and so make others work for him (457, 458); and this bellum omnium in omnes becomes the hotter the more the world becomes peopled, and arts and sciences grow, for the greater is the multiplication of the wants of men, and the conflict of buyer and seller. The buyer, to keep down prices, demands free trade and overstocked markets, the utmost competition of sellers and makers. If he succeeds, the result is the poverty, and perhaps emigration of the worker. The seller on his part tries to engross and to force high prices by causing a scarcity; or else he adulterates and deteriorates his goods. There is waste of time and strength and goods over bad work. “In short, no one has the least security for the permanence of his condition in life, for what men are at present desiring is complete liberty to ruin one another” (458).
As to the trade between different European nations, (1) it may be a trade of mutual advantage, so that in money and in intrinsic value each State is where it was, neither richer nor poorer ;-or (2) one nation may produce more advantageously for the foreigner than the foreigner for it, and part with what is indispensable in exchange for what is dispensable; it then becomes progressively poorer, and, though it may increase its stock of money, it only lowers the value of it (461);-or (3), one nation may lose by giving away its money for goods, and raising the value of its stock of money, thus feeling the weight of taxation heavier, and losing its people through consequent emigration and mortality. The value of land falls, and fields go out of cultivation. The foreigner acquires the land, and government sells itself to foreign governments for subsidies (462, 463). Meanwhile the produce of the waste lands in the shape of game, etc., increases. The people who survive find subsistence, but the real victims of the growing poverty of such States have died out, so that no one can ask why they possess nothing (464). Governments suck no small advantage out of such a state of things. They direct greater efforts towards keeping up the taxes than keeping down the sufferings of the people (465). They try to increase the exports in order to bring money into the country, and to hinder the imports in order to prevent money going out, and they try to encourage the carrying trade. These expedients secure ready money, but lead to retaliation and commercial wars (466, 467). We have a nation [England] claiming supremacy in the sea, an element which ought to be open to all, like light and air, and claiming exclusive markets abroad, where she has no more concern than other nations (468). The prosperity thus secured is not permanent. Justice and wisdom both point to a different policy. Dependence on foreign trade must always involve insecurity and the risk of over-production and loss (469, 470). Imperfect exclusion (as in the present Protective Systems), is no better than free trade; the only remedy is absolute exclusion and a Closed Commercial State (472-476).
Nevertheless as men, and even societies, exist before the State, and as the moral law, which is higher than any political and legal bond, is prior to the State, so, when the best State has done its perfect work it makes itself superfluous ;' the highest development of man is spiritual and intellectual, and when that is reached there is no need of any State or government. Fichte, like Godwin, looks forward to a purified anarchy ; but it may be myriads of myriads of years away,” and meanwhile, unlike Godwin, he regards the State and the closed State as a necessary aid to human progress; it is a “means towards the founding of a perfect Society.'
1 "Es ist der Zweck aller Regierung die Regierung überflüssig zu machen.” (VI. 306.)
It may be asked how far he regards even his proximate ideal (the Closed State) as practicable in the immediate future. The answer is given, partly in his Preface to the Closed State, partly in the lectures on Characteristics of the Present Age (1804, vol. vii.). In the former (in the dedication to Struensee) he expressly claims for the political philosopher, as distinguished from the practical politician, the right of drawing out his schemes fully and freely, without regard to immediate practicability. His work is theoretical and general; and, though he believes his conclusions true and his plans ultimately realizable, he is not to be treated as if he were applying his principles to one particular State, and at the time of composition proposing to carry them out in detail
. Direct political application would need to have regard to the special features of each State concerned ; and any attempt to carry out the proposed “ closing," for example, would meet with the obstructions of immediate self-interest
, to say nothing of other difficulties (III. 389–393).
In point of fact (as he shows in the Characteristics) the leading States of Europe are probably in the third of the five stages of development through which the human race must necessarily pass. Those five stages can be deduced necessarily and a priori, not from history but quite apart from it. To show that we are now in one particular stage of the five is not so easy, and cannot be done a priori ; but the features are (he thinks) those of the third stage, the stage of Emancipation, Sceptical Indifference, Enlightenment and Criticism, in which all authorities are questioned and tested, as distinguished from the first when men lived a life of innocence, guided by instinct, and the second when their rule of life ceased to be one with themselves, but they obeyed it as an external authority (VII. II, etc.). After the third stage comes the epoch of rational science and love of truth as
The Historical Economists can hardly claim Fichte. See Schmoller, Litteraturgeschichte der Staatswissenschaften, 1888. the highest thing on earth. Last of all comes the epoch when men are so identified with the truth that their art reflects reason ; reason becomes their second nature. From innocent instinct, through consciousness of incipient sin, to complete sinfulness, and then from incipient holiness to perfect holiness, they press towards the end of human progress. But the end is very far off; and in the fourth stage, to which we are approaching, the State, in its ideal form, will play a great part as an educator of nations. Education, moral and intellectual, must (as Fichte learned from Pestalozzi) be national and popular. But the remote end of all the progress is cosmopolitan. If it were not that Fichte regards external nature as an obstacle to be overcome rather than as itself a form of reason, he might be regarded as completely at one with Hegel in the position that what is actual is rational. Philosophy finds all to be necessary and therefore good” (VII. 14). “What is actually there, is there from absolute necessity, and is necessarily in the shape in which it is there ; it simply could not be otherwise” (VII. 129). Such passages may have suggested to Hegel his own propositions, which have been treated as more paradoxical and pretentious, only because more rigidly and logically carried out to their furthest consequences.
1 See e.g. VII. 19, 21.
It appears then that (1) in Fichte the economic end is subordinated to spiritual training ; (2) that a socialistic organization of the State as it is, preceded by a Society securing rights without Government, will be followed by a Society in which de facto there will be a securing of all rights, and of much more besides. Fichte is, in fact, a believer in a development of the human race that will lead it through Socialism into a purified Anarchy. The remoteness of his ideal tended, along with the general distrust of his metaphysical methods, to deprive his social philosophy of its influence on later generations; and his influence on Economists, even where they have been Socialists, has taken the form of a stimulus to enthusiasm rather than of intellectual guidance. Hegel owed much to Fichte : but the influence of the former has been of a more abiding sort, because more entirely due to the convincingness of his logic, and the impressive thoroughness with which he pursued it home.
KRAUSE (1781-1832). That neither Bentham nor Kant nor Fichte had killed the notion of a Law of Nature in Germany appears from the history of that notion as treated by the philosopher Krause. That eccentric genius has hindered his own success by revelling (like Bentham in his later life) in a peculiar terminology of his own making;' but it is striking that his conception of natural right has been substantially adopted by such influential writers as Trendelenburg and Ahrens in Germany, Lorimer and Green in our own country, and many leading jurists in Italy and Spain.
Everything in life,” says Krause, “which is unchangeable is called by us á Law; we therefore assert that Right is a Law, a universal law, valid for all rational beings. It holds for all rational life, so far as the latter is brought by freedom into conformity to Reason. Right is a 'good” of human life, for it concerns freedom ; and where there is no freedom there can be no good. Morality, indeed, deals with a higher subject than Right, for morality relates to all that is a Good, while Right relates only to one class. Yet the doctrine of Right is not a mere branch of ethics; it must do what ethics does not do,-inquire into the objective nature of Right, just as Æsthetics must inquire into the conditions that make one thing beautiful and another ugly. To succeed in the inquiry, we must first of all recognise that the destiny of man is to perfect and realize all his powers, and be a "complete harmonious human being." He must be perfect in his inward life, in society, in relation to physical nature, and in relation to God.' His rational life is thus evidently not dependent on himself alone, but on certain indispensable conditions.
1 E.g: Ja-heit, Wesen-lich, Sein-heit.
2 Das System der Rechtsphilosophie (1826-8), ed. by K. D. A. Röder, 1874, p. 33. Compare above Note to Nat. Rights (Book II. ix.).
3 See below for “Goods” in the sense of Commodities.