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(he says) depends largely on geographical conditions. The peoples of the south are scientific; of the north industrious and mechanical ; of the middle regions, commercial and judicial, law-giving and law-abiding. Dwellers in great towns or by the sea are likely to be enterprising and inquisitive, and, in trade, too cunning. A fertile soil will have indolent inhabitants. Historically, political changes have been often due to excessive wealth and poverty in a country, especially in ancient times when slavery and debt were serious evils.
Seditions were aimed either at the cancelling of debts or the equalizing of property—both (in Bodin's opinion) impracticable. Bodin revives Aristotle's objection to communism, its effect on population. “Sir Thomas More would have families contain no less than ten and no more than sixteen children, as if he could make Nature obey his orders."1
Rather than an absolute equality we should aim at such a distribution as would strengthen a Middle Class, neither very rich nor very poor.
We should remove such causes of poverty as confiscations and excessive taxation, and such causes of opulence as the intermarriage of the rich. In any case all progress must be gradual, for laws are respected in proportion to their antiquity, and we must imitate Nature, which perfects no life suddenly. The central government must be sovereign, and it must be strong, for there is no hope of growth within till there is protection against dangers outside. In a new colony, indeed, there may be an approach to a sudden creation of new conditions; and an approach to equality of possessions is feasible there if anywhere. After military strength comes financial ; there should be a census of goods and numbers, and the State, besides getting wealth from taxation, may get it from public lands and from colonies. Trade, which enriches the people, was once thought dishonourable, but was surely less so than robbery which was thought no disgrace. We may see, he adds, especially from a country like Portugal, how trade may make a country wealthy. As to gold and silver, abundance of them only serves to raise prices.
1 Républ. (ed. 1594), bk. V. p. 705.
The degradation of the coinage is mischievous to all parties.
He inquires into the best form of government, and decides for monarchy as the “most in accordance with Nature.” There is only one head in the body, one sun in the sky, and one God in the universe. Hence we see that, after all, Bodin's book is a pamphlet in favour of absolute monarchy even though in a purified and philosophical form.
The first modern product of strictly economical speculation, the Mercantile Theory, grew up out of the conditions of absolute monarchy. It was a stage through which all European governments have passed in the growth of their civilization ; and in the writings of its advocates we have doctrines of fiscal finance that contain the germs of the mercantile theory even if these are not fully developed there. Even in the Utopia there is a reference to the idea that foreign trade is good because it brings gold and silver into the country. The absolute monarchs at first, however, concerned themselves about foreign trade rather as yielding them a revenue, and influencing the habits of their people, than with a view to a favourable Balance. A system of duties might be simply equivalent to a system of sumptuary laws, and this merely meant that the king had his own notion of what ought to constitute the wealth of his subjects and was trying to impose this notion upon them by law. The principles of the mercantile theory involved much more than this, as we shall presently learn. Meanwhile it is to be noted that Bodin's political philosophy, though full of illustration on points of detail, economical and political, does not like that of Grotius) involve the discovery of any principle which was of great moment for latter speculation, political and economical. The notion that the Middle Class should be regarded as the most important is, perhaps, though it is not novel, and is lightly touched on by our author, even economically the most interesting, from the part played by the Middle Class in modern industrial life and speculation. One of the leading questions of practical economics in our time is whether the Middle Class, after losing their political predominance, will not also lose their domination over industry and commerce.
1 Bodin was perhaps the first to point out the effect of the American discoveries of the precious metals on the value of the latter in Europe. Réponses à M. de Malestroit, 1568, 1578.
2 It is as old, perhaps, as the book of Proverbs (“Give me neither poverty nor riches "), and certainly as old as Aristotle.
1 For a full account of Bodin, see Baudrillart, Jean Bodin et son temps, 1853 Compare Prof. Espinas, Doctrines écon., 1892, pp. 120-127. Prof. Flint, Philos. of Hist., pp. 68 seq.
GROTIUS (1583–1645). The work of GROTIUS on the Laws of War and Peace (De jure belli et pacis, 1625) is not strictly political, like the writings of Machiavelli, nor social, like the Utopia, nor confined to the consideration of single States within themselves, like Bodin's République. Holland, unlike France, was nothing without its foreign trade and international connections ; and the political philosophy of Hugo de Groot (Grotius) was appropriately devoted not to States within themselves, but to States in their relations with each other. But, in extending his view, like the Stoic philosophers, beyond the limits of the single State, Grotius drew attention to principles which bore not only on international but on civic relations, the relation of man to the State, and of man to man.
Historical events had prepared the way for this phase of political philosophy. The old international peacemaker, the Pope, had no longer universal authority; the unity of the Roman Empire was gone; the unifying influence of feudal ties had reached a very little way, and feudalism had yielded to absolutism. On the dethronement of the Church, Protestants found the need of providing another authority in sacred things; and on the discrediting of Papal mediation they had need to supply the like gap in secular government.
Was there any authority left, to bind the nations of the world in their relations with one another ? This is the question to which Grotius would furnish the answer.
In looking beyond the State to the world of States we might seem to be travelling farther away from the region
1 Prof. Hasbach tries to show that the subsequent attempts to found a philosophical ethics were due to the discrediting of the religious sanction through the religious wars.
of Economics. In reality we are being brought nearer both to Economics and to Ethics. We are brought face to face with the principles that have moulded economical theory more than all others in modern times, the principles of Natural Law and Natural Liberty.
It is true that in the history of natural law, whether as a legal or as a philosophical conception, Grotius is only one term of a long series." But his propositions, from the immense currency they obtained and the influence they exerted, became a new point of departure for speculation.
He is attempting to show how a political philosophy (including an ethics and an economics, as yet undistinguished from one another) can be built up without the aid of theology
Many, says Grotius, have regarded the law of nations as a mere empty phrase, and have supposed that outside the limits of a State the rule of the strongest is the only law, and anything is just that is to the advantage of the strongest. Like Carneades of the New Academy, they say that men make laws by the standard of their own advantage merely (pro utilitate), and there is no law of
These theorists do not remember that man is a social animal, “ est [homini] appetitus societatis”; and he desires not only companionship, but a quiet and wellordered companionship with his like, as the Stoics perceived. Even animals are not guided only by individual advantage, but often by affection; and what is instinct with them is reason with men. This regard for society is the source of all binding laws; and, as all men are kindred in Adam, all are subject to natural law, first because of their common humanity, next (and in a less degree) because advantage (utilitas) follows from obedience to it, and must always be presumed to do so. As civil laws are of advantage to citizens, international
1 See e.g. Moritz Voigt, Die Lehre vom Jus Naturale, etc., d. Römer (Leipzig, 1856), and Prof. Otto Gierke, Johannes Althusius und die Entwickelung der naturrechtlichen Staatstheorien (Breslau, 1880).
2 The doctrine of some of the Sophists. See Plato, Gorgias, and Republic, I. and II. , Grotius, De jure B. et P., Proleg.
3 όσα κοινού τινος μετέχει, προς το ομογενές σπεύδει, etc. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, IX. 9.