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disease. The distemper is universal. Its dissemination is the instrument of its further extension; and the prevalence which it has acquired necessitates its reception, and ensures its growing ascendency. We are involved in the complicated network of its endless ramifications, and there is no visible mode of extricating any part of the community from its insidious and all-embracing coils. Self-defence, and the urgency of subsistence, compel all parties to unite in the game; and it is impossible to foresee any available plan of escape, or to anticipate any ultimate result but utter ruin and demoralization.
The legitimate purpose of trade is to exchange the productions of different localities, or of different individuals, and to benefit all parts and parties by satisfying their wants with their reciprocal superfluities. This is the service which the trader undertakes to render, and he is entitled to a recompense adequate to his suitable support, and proportionate to the benefits he confers. But the immense development of competition, the influence of large capitals and still larger establishments, the lust of sudden wealth, and the rapacity of speculation, have modified both the purposes of trade and the requirements of the trader. Trade for the sake of trade; commerce, not for public benefit, but for private gain, has become the universal procedure of modern nations. No one is any longer satisfied with profits proportionate to his actual services, or with supplying real wants, but every nerve is strained to improve the opportunities of gain, without any regard to the couse
befall the public. Perhaps, to this catise principally may be attributed those financial crises which periodically occur, and inflict such severe losses and such deep distress upon the world. But to this cause unquestionally may be referred many other (lisastrous phenomena of modern commerce. Excessive imports, excessive exports, and the continual fluctuations of price, may be, in great measure, ascribel this canse. Hence, too, bas proceeded the now common practice of forcing both trade and manufactures beyond the natural wants of the consumers ; of stimulating artificial demands, and of multiplying unprofitably both production and consumption by the adulteration of commodities of all sorts, and by the incessant flux of fashions. The consequences of this routine, are to occasion a constant repetition of profits in the hands of the gainers, and a continual repetition of losses or unsatisfactory consumption in the hands of the losers; to augment the net profits of the year, and to diminish the wellbeing of the masses of the cominunity.
This routine, under the impulse of the spirit of trade, which is now predominant, eventuates in the fatal severance of society into two classes, as widely contrasted as the opposite poles of the sphere : the rich, with those becoming rich by means of the speculative activity of the tiines, and the poor, or those declining into that
category under the operation of the same instrumentality. Insecurity, discord, and ruin, are the inseparable accompaniments of any society thus divided into two conflicting and irreconcilable classes. Moreover, production must ultimately be arrested by the extension of this system; for, independent of the annual waste which it occasions, it must reaeh speedily the limit when the masses, not of one country, but of the whole commercial world, will be pauperized, and unable to keep up the production, by their purchases to its former magnitude, and when they will be decimated by want and misery, and enfeebled by disease so as to be unable to supply the physical force required for the creation of the raw material. A similar effect may be produced less directly and less extensively, by the failure of the principal aliments of the present rapid production. Steamboats, which constantly explode, and, which must be continually replaced ; locomotives, which are smashed by the frequent recurrence of collisions, and under favourable circumstances last only a few years; railroads, which are made only to prove their inability, are promptly abandoned, and those which are used and worn out daily, with tlie other numerous applications, judicious or injudicious, of iron, must exhaust the apparently exhaustless supplies of this valuable metal. Before this point is reached, however, it is probable that an equivalent effect will result from the exhaustion of the coal, required in enormous quantities in all the mechanic arts, and in all the great factories and modern modes of transportation. The timber, too, may be destroyed, which is almost equally requisite in its nume
It may appear a distant and improbable danger which is thus apprehended; but it is by no means so remote as is usually supposed. The consumption of coal, iron, and timber, has already excited alarm in Europe, and inspired anxious deliberations and economical precautions to postpone the evil. It is, indeed, a calamity which we can scarcely expect at any time to reach in its extreme form, because an immense rise in the price of all products of coal, iron, and timber, will long precede their actual exhaustion, and generate, in anticipation, all the difficulties and stagnation which would attend their coinplete destruction. When we point to statistics, to exports, and imports, to the returns of annual production and consumption, and to the aggregate profits of the year, it would be prudent to reflect that our age may possibly be imitating the brief but brilliant career of a spendthrift; that our immense expenditure, productive and unproductive, may be due to our living on our capital, and anticipating the legitimate resources of the future, and not to a permanent and healthy angmentation of our legitimate means. Many industrial enterprises have flourished for a short time, and dazzled by their brilliant success, which have afterwards been discovered to have paid all their largo divi
dends by deductions from the capital stock subscribed. May not the vast augmentation of commerce and inanufactures, and their enormous aggregate profits, be in some measure attributable to the adoption of a similar procedure in the general economy of modern industry? It has become a vulgar truism that “time is money :” but, unsatisfied with this oracle of mammon, we strive to convert the future into an actual possession. Speculation regards the hopes and the fears of the coming time as its estate. Trade yields to the spirit of the time; and it spends the promise of the unborn years, in order to add to the profits of the passing inoment. This process accumulates evils against the day of evil, and accelerates its advent; while the sun shines brightest in the commercial heavens, a sudden and enduring eclipse will soine day come upon it, and clothe the skies in a fatal gloom. The prophetic vision of Ossian, in regard to the central orb of our planetary system, may soon bé realized, in its metaphorical adaptation to the course of modern prosperity, and the poonday of production be changed in the twinkling of an eye into the clarkness of midnight. These may be imaginations, for every crisis in human affairs calls unforeseen energies into action ; but they are imaginatious which may well excite apprehension, and suggest reflection, in the midst of the un certain splendours in which we bask with such listless inattention to their possible result.
These considerations, though directly connected with our main thesis, have seduced us from the straight course of the logical procedure of our argument. To this we must abruptly return. The universality of this spirit of speculation, and the necessities which it imposes upon the present generation, have rendered all productions subservient to hazard; have changed commerce into a gambling operation; have rendered values fluctuating and delusive; and have made the smaller and ordinary transactions of trade capricious and extortionate. The net profit is the guiding star of modern industry, and is the substitute for all other canons of either right or policy. The tendency of this state of things is to social disintegration, because every one is compelled to prey upon all who come within his reach, and to devour each other, like pikes in a fish pond. If, in earlier times, the burthens of subsistence had required the cost to be as nicely calculated in all cases as it inust be now, and a clear annual profit to be as certainly contrived, the forests could never have been cleared, the soil could never have been reduced to cultivation, cities would never have been built, nor would civilization have been possible. The lessons of political economy may be true interpretations of the existing order of facts; but in their exclusive adaptation to the daily practices of the world, it is much to be feared that they generate a monomania which must eventuate in social suicide.
While the influences, the temptations, and the effects of speculation thus descend from the sublime heights of the financial operations on the exchange, to the smallest trading and manufacturing establishments, every where engrossing the largest profits, without regard to the contingent losses to the public, and diffusing through all the departments of industrial activity the same feverish avidity for sudden and disproportionate gains, they are also manifesting, by the rapid conversion of enterprise into associated adventure, a tendency to counteract the disorganization they have produced. Composition, decomposition, and recomposition is the law of social as of all organic existence; and these processes take place concurrently in the same organism, and become successive only in the transition from one organism to a new organic system. The same agencies which occasion the decay are, at the same time, engaged in attempting to restore a healthy action of the economical functions. This double movement of the forces which determine social change, renders the study of the transformations and other phenomena of society complicated and difficult, and casts uncertainty or obscurity over such investigations. Nevertheless, the duplex character of the mutations simultaneously presented must be recognized, if we would not encounter the risk of entirely misapprehending the truth, in consequence of apprehending it only in part.
The ancient Stoics espoused the doctrine of an intelligent soul of the material universe. The “ Anima Mundi,” according to their philosophy, guided the changes of the seasons, and all the mysterious operations of nature. It thus constituted the Providence of creative action. Wild and dreamy as the theory appears, when restated in the nineteenth century, it was only a coarse and fetichistic anticipation of the preëstablished harmony of Leibnitz. Both doctrines attempt to give a satisfactory expression to the feeling forced upon us by the observance of many of the phenomena of existence. Without assenting in any respect to the fancy of the Stoics, or hypostaticing a mere idea, we detect the semblance of this imaginary soul of the world in the blind instincts, operating like vital forces, which impel the world to the spontaneous and unreflecting adoption of those general practices which extend the benefits or correct the errors, perhaps by the introduction of equal error, of their previous procedure. Thus, it is in obedience to no specific dogma, but simply in compliance with a natural tendency, that the spirit of speculation, after infusing a solvent into society, is now attempting a partial reconstruction,
by the extension of the principle of associated or incorporated action to all those forms of industry which admit of concentration and amplification. We have already endeavoured to explain how the universal passion for speculation has combined both projectors and stockholders in the realization of this result; and now recur to the subject solely for
the sake of noting the manner in which the anxiety for social redintegration has manifested itself in a practical form. The effort may be futile-indeed, must be so—until its immediate aims give place to larger and less interested views; for in the shape in which it now reveals itself, it only enlarges the range of speculation, threatening to embrace all productive activity, and disseminates its temptations and its injuries throughout all the strata of the coinmunity. But it indicates a tentative reform, and provokes to more effectual endeavours, which already seek realization.
“The excesses of mercantilism and of speculation; the continual increase which had passed, so to speak, into a social necessity, of the public and funded debt; the invasion by chartered companies of the mineral wealth, of the railroads, &c.; the feudal constitution of industry on the large scale, naturally tended to produce a protestation on the part of the classes affected by these movements, and to suggest projects of reform.”
The Spéculateur à la Bourse confines his remarks to France, but they are equally applicable to all other countries where
speculation has obtained the ascendency. It is undeniable at this day that a general system of social reform is almost universally felt to be a necessity. This is no longer the dogma of a heresy, or the watchword of a revolutionary party; it is the profound conviction of the most reflecting men, the instinctive requirement of the multitude. St. Simonians, and Fourierists, Socialists and Communists, Icarians and Egalitaires, have ceased to be anything more than the extravagant and intemperate manifestations of the common sentiment. The reform itself is acknowledged as a social necessity; but the grand difficulty remains, which is to determine upon any safe and practicable mode of its effectuation. The existence and prosperity of communities cannot be staked upon the oscillations of the market, and the fluctuations in the value of stocks and shares, resulting from the transactions on the exchange. This becomes the more intolerable when there is an obvious tendency to convert all property into stocks, and to subordinate all industry and
production to incorporated companies. Communities cannot submit to witness, with open eyes, the net results of their labours, and the accumulated results of former generations, thrown off, appropriated, and dissipated by the contractions and dilatations which are artificially or artfully produced in the inarket, for the benefit of the operators behind the scenes. They cannot consent to the continuous disorganization of society, and the constant dislocation of the machinery of industrial action. The world of trade has been thrown off its axis, and it spins round with a giddy motion, which may communicate a delightful intoxication for a time, but the peril of the position must at length be discovered. The discords and dissensions of society will cease to be endurable, and must suggest measures of reunion, or will find for themselves a fatal termination