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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Inapplicable Terms
By Frédéric Bastiat (1801–1850)
 
From ‘Economic Sophisms’

LET us give up … the puerility of applying to industrial competition phrases applicable to war,—a way of speaking which is only specious when applied to competition between two rival trades. The moment we come to take into account the effect produced on the general prosperity, the analogy disappears.  1
  In a battle, every one who is killed diminishes by so much the strength of the army. In industry, a workshop is shut up only when what it produced is obtained by the public from another source and in greater abundance. Figure a state of things where for one man killed on the spot two should rise up full of life and vigor. Were such a state of things possible, war would no longer merit its name.  2
  This, however, is the distinctive character of what is so absurdly called industrial war.  3
  Let the Belgians and the English lower the price of their iron ever so much; let them, if they will, send it to us for nothing: this might extinguish some of our blast-furnaces; but immediately, and as a necessary consequence of this very cheapness, there would rise up a thousand other branches of industry more profitable than the one which had been superseded.  4
  We arrive, then, at the conclusion that domination by labor is impossible, and a contradiction in terms, seeing that all superiority which manifests itself among a people means cheapness, and tends only to impart force to all other nations. Let us banish, then, from political economy all terms borrowed from the military vocabulary: to fight with equal weapons, to conquer, to crush, to stifle, to be beaten, invasion, tribute, etc. What do such phrases mean? Squeeze them, and you obtain nothing…. Yes, you do obtain something; for from such words proceed absurd errors, and fatal and pestilent prejudices. Such phrases tend to arrest the fusion of nations, are inimical to their peaceful, universal, and indissoluble alliance, and retard the progress of the human race.  5
 
 
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