The Bastiat-Proudhon Debate
on Interest (1849-1850)

Letter 1

F. C. Chevé [Charles-François Chevé (1813-1875)],
one of the editors of the Voix du Peuple, to Frédéric Bastiat

[Translation by Roderick T. Long]

22 October 1849.
DOI-IV-1.1 All the principles of social economy which you have championed with such remarkable talent point irresistibly, inevitably, to one conclusion: the abolition of interest or rent. Curious to know by what strange contradiction your logic, ordinarily so quick and sure, had recoiled before this definitive conclusion, I queried your pamphlet titled Capital and Rent, and I realised, my surprise mingled with joy, that nothing more stands between you and ourselves than the breadth of a simple equivocation.
DOI-IV-1.2 — This equivocation bears entirely on the confusion between two things which are nevertheless quite distinct: use and property.
DOI-IV-1.3 Like us, you take your start from this fundamental and incontestable principle: reciprocity, mutuality, equivalence of services. Only in confusing use with property, and in identifying these two orders of nature – orders distinct and without possible equivalence – you destroy all mutuality, all reciprocity, all genuine equivalence, thus reversing, in your own hands, the principle which you have put forward.
DOI-IV-1.4 It is this principle which comes to appeal to you against yourself. How can you challenge, in favour of the abolition of rent, this judge whom you have invoked against it?
DOI-IV-1.5 You cannot accuse us, Sir, of lacking in courtesy. We, the first to be attacked, leave to you the choice of place, hour, and weapons; and without any complaints on our part over the disadvantages of the terrain, we accept the discussion in the terms in which you have posed it. Still more, contenting ourselves to follow one by one all the examples, all the demonstrations of your essay Capital and Rent, we undertake no more than to rectify the misunderstanding, the unfortunate equivocation, which alone has prevented you from finding your way to a conclusion in opposition to rent. Do the terms of this debate seem fair to you, or not?
DOI-IV-1.6 Let us, then, begin the discussion.
DOI-IV-1.7 Paul gives Peter ten 50-centime pieces in exchange for 100 sous; this is truck for truck, the exchange of property for property. — But Peter tells Paul; “You give me the ten 10-sou pieces now, [A sou was worth five centimes; so ten 50-centime pieces and ten 10-sou pieces come to the same thing. – RTL] and I will give you the 100-sou piece a year from now.” This is “a new and different kind of service that Peter asks of Paul.”
DOI-IV-1.8 — But what is the nature of this service? Does Peter ask Paul to cede ownership to him of a new sum, whatever it may be? No, but simply to allow him the use of this one for one year. But since any service must be paid for by an equivalent service, a service of use must be exchanged for a service of use: nothing less, nothing more. — Peter will tell Paul: You give me the use of ten 10-sou pieces for a year, and I will owe you the same service in return, namely the use of ten 10-sou pieces, likewise for a year. Is this just or not?
DOI-IV-1.9 A man exchanges a ship for a house: this is truck for truck, the exchange of property for property. — But the shipowner wishes, in addition, to have the use of the house for a year before turning over his ship. The houseowner tells him: “This is a new service that you are asking of me; I have the right to turn you down or else to ask of you an equivalent service by way of compensation.” — Obviously, replies the shipowner, if you give me, for the space of a year, the use of a value of 20,000 francs, I suppose I would accordingly oweyou in exchange the use of an equal value of 20,000. Nothing could be more just. But since I pay for your property with that of my ship, it is no new property but a simple use that you are granting me; hence I am not obliged to grant you anything more than the use of an equal value for an equal time. “The services exchanged are equivalent in value.” To require more would be robbery.
DOI-IV-1.10 Mathurin lends a sack of corn “to Jerome, who promises to give back, at the end of the year, a sack of corn of equal quality and equal weight, without a single grain lacking.” — Mathurin would like, in addition, five litres of corn in addition to the hectoliter, for the service which he renders to Jerome. — No, replies the latter, that would be injustice and plunder: you offer me ownership of nothing, yet at the end of the year I am obliged to hand over the exact value of what you are giving me today. What you are yielding to me is the use for one year of your sack of corn; hence you have a right to the use of the same value for one year as well. Nothing beyond; otherwise there would be no more mutuality, reciprocity, equivalence of services.
DOI-IV-1.11 For his part, “Mathurin, who is something of a scholar, reasons as follows:” The objection Jerome raises against me is unanswerable; and indeed, if at the end of the year he gives me back five litres of corn in addition to the five litres I have just lent him, and in some little time I am able to lend two sacks of corn, then three, then four, when I shall have reached a high enough number to live on the sum of these remunerations,” I shall be able to eat without doing anything, and without ever expending my original balance. But it will be somebody else, however, who will have produced what I shall be eating. That person being not myself but someone else, I shall be living at the expense of another, which is robbery. And that is easily understood: for the service which I shall have rendered is merely the loan or use of a value, while the service that would be rendered to me in exchange would be a surrendering, or the ownership of a thing. Hence there is no justice, equality, equivalence of services except in the sense understood by Jerome.
DOI-IV-1.12 Valerius wishes to occupy Mondor’s house for one year. “It shall be so, subject to three conditions. First, to vacate the premises at the end of the year, returning the house in good condition, apart from the inevitable wear and tear resulting from the mere passage of time. Second, to reimburse Mondor for the 300 francs which he pays annually to the architect for repairing the ravages of time; for since these ravages occur while the house is in Valerius’s service, it is only just that he bear the consequences. Third, to render to Mondor a service equivalent to that which he receives from him.” But this service is the use of a house for one year. Hence Valerius owes Mondor the use of the same value during the same lapse of time. This value must be freely discussed between the two contracting parties.
DOI-IV-1.13 James has just finished making a plane. William says to James:
DOI-IV-1.14 — You must render me a service.
DOI-IV-1.15 — What service?
DOI-IV-1.16 — Lend me this plane for one year.
DOI-IV-1.17 — What are you thinking, William? And if I render you this service, what service will you, for your part, render me?
DOI-IV-1.18 — The same one, of course; and if you lend me a value of 20 francs for a year, I will have to lend you in turn the same value for an equal period of time.
DOI-IV-1.19 — To begin with, in a year it will be necessary to scrap the plane; [An untranslatable pun, “mettre le rabot au rebut.” – RTL] it will no longer be good for anything. Hence it is just that you give me another one exactly like it, or that you give me enough money to have it repaired, or that you reimburse me for the two days that I would have to devote to making a new one. In one manner or another it is necessary that the plane return to me in the same good condition in which I deliver it to you.
DOI-IV-1.20 — It is all too just, and I submit to this condition; I commit myself to returning to you either a similar plane or its value.
DOI-IV-1.21 — Independently of this already stipulated restoration in full, you must render me a service which we shall discuss.
DOI-IV-1.22 — The service is simple enough. Just as I must render to you, in return for the plane you have yielded to me, a similar plane, or an equal value in money, so likewise for the use of this value for one year, I owe you the use of a similar sum for one year as well. In one case as in the other, “the services exchanged are equivalent in value.”
DOI-IV-1.23 With this established, here, it seems to me, is a series of consequences whose justice it is impossible to contest:
DOI-IV-1.24 1. If use pays for use, and if the purely temporary granting, by the borrower, of the use of an equal value “is a natural return, is equitable, is the just price of the service of use, we may conclude, generalising, that it is CONTRARY to the nature of capital to produce interest.” Indeed, it is quite clear that after the reciprocal use of these two exchanged services, each proprietor having recovered no more than the exact value of what he possessed before, there exists no interest or productivity of capital, either for the one or for the other. Nor could it be otherwise, since the lender could draw no more interest from the value lent than the borrower for his part could draw from the value returned; so that in this way interest on capital is a negation of itself, and cannot exist for Paul, Mathurin, Mondor, and James except on condition of being abolished for Peter, Jerome, Valerius, and William. All things being, in reality, instruments of production on the same basis, the former can take no more interest on the value lent than the latter in their turn can take on the value given back in exchange – which makes interest on capital destroy itself, reducing it to a simple right of use for use. To seek to exchange the use for the property is to strip and plunder one person to the profit of another, “to legalise, organise, systematize injustice itself.” Let us therefore indeed stipulate that interest is illegitimate, iniquitous, and a worker of plunder.
DOI-IV-1.25 2. A second consequence, no less remarkable than the first, is that interest is harmful to the borrower, to the lender himself, and to society at large. It harms and plunders the borrower, for it is evident that if Peter, Jerome, Valerius, and William are obliged to return a greater value than they have received, there is no equivalence of services, and the value which they render in surplus must be produced by them and appropriated by others, and they are to that extent despoiled. It harms the lender, because when he has recourse to borrowing, he falls victim to the same spoliation. It harms the one and the other and society as a whole, because inasmuch as interest or rent considerably augments the cost of all products, each consumer is despoiled to that extent on everything he buys; because the workers, no longer being able to buy back their products at the price of their wages, are forced to reduce their consumption; because this reduction in consumption leads to unemployment; because this unemployment brings in its train a new reduction of consumption, and because it requires the unproductive gift of enormous sums absorbed by public or private assistance, and the repression of the ever-growing crimes to which poverty and lack of work give rise. Whence an appalling perturbation in the law of supply and demand, and in all the relations of social economy; an insuperable obstacle “to the formation, multiplication, and abundance of capital”; absolute autocracy of capital, radical servitude of the workers, oppression everywhere, liberty nowhere. Would that society might “comprehend the damage it inflicts when it proclaims the legitimacy of interest.”
DOI-IV-1.26 3. The anecdotes which we have related also put us on the track toward explaining all that is monstrous in this phenomenon called the perennial or perpetual character of interest. Given their infidelity to the principle of the equivalence of services, Paul, Mathurin, Mondor, and James wish to exchange, not use for use, but us for property; the result is that after about fourteen years they have received the value of their good, and after a century ten times that value, and that in thus lending it indefinitely, they will receive therefrom a thousand, a hundred thousand, a million times the value, without ever ceasing to be the owners. So that the simple use of the sack of corn, the house, the plane, will be equivalent to the ownership, not of one, but of a million, a billion, and so on, sacks of corn, houses, planes. It is the ability to sell the same object over and over again and always to receive the price anew, without ever yielding up ownership of the object sold. Are the exchanged values equal? Are the reciprocal services equivalent? For note this well: instruments of production are as much a service for the lenders as for the borrowers, and if Peter, Jerome, Valerius, and William have received a service which consists in the use of a 100-sou piece, of a sack of corn, of a house, of a plane, they have returned, in exchange, a service which consists in the ownership of a billion 100-sou pieces, sacks of corn, houses, planes. But unless it can be shown that the use of five francs equals the ownership of five billions, it must be acknowledged that interest on capital is robbery.
DOI-IV-1.27 As soon as, by means of interest or rent, an individual or a succession of individuals can exchange five francs, a sack of corn, a house, a plane, for over a billion 5-franc pieces, sacks of corn, houses, planes, there exists in the world a man who receives over a billion which he has not produced. — Now this billion constitutes the subsistence of a hundred, of a thousand others; and assuming that the wages which remain to these despoiled thousand still suffice to nourish them, in working up to their final hour, it is the leisure of a thousand individuals, i.e. their moral and intellectual life, that has been gobbled up by a single person. — These men who are thus deprived, for another’s profit, of the entire life of the soul and mind might have become Newtons, Fénelons, Pascals, achieving marvelous discoveries in the sciences and in the arts, and advancing by a century the progress of humanity. — But no, “thanks to rent and its monstrous perennial character,” leisure is decisively forbidden to all those who labour from cradle to grave, and becomes the exclusive privilege of a pack of idlers who, by means of interest on capital, without producing anything, appropriate to themselves the fruits of the crushing labour of the workers. – nearly the totality of “mankind is reduced to stagnating in a vegetable and stationary life, in eternal ignorance,” [A reference to a passage in Bastiat’s Capital and Rent, as is the mention of Newtons, Fénelons, and Pascals a bit earlier. – RTL] as a result of this plunder of rent, which relieves him first of subsistence and then of leisure. – Without rent, on the contrary, with nobody failing to receive exactly what he has produced, an immense number of men, presently idle or devoted to work that is unproductive and often destructive, would be constrained to work, which would to that extent augment the total amount of general wealth or possible leisure, and this leisure would always belong to those who had actually acquired it by their own labour or by that of their fathers.
DOI-IV-1.28 But, we are told: “If capital ought no longer to produce interest, who will be willing to create the instruments of labour, the materials and the provisions of every kind that are involved in it? Every one will consume his proportion, and the human race will never advance a step. Capital will be no longer formed, since there will be no interest in forming it.” [A quotation from Capital and Rent; the play on the word “interest” works in French as well. – RTL] A strange equivocation indeed! Is there no advantage to the ploughman in producing as much as possible, even though he exchanges its yield for no more than an equal value paid once, without rent or interest on capital? Is there no advantage to the industrialist in doubling or tripling his produce, even though he sells it for no more than an equivalent sum handed over once, without any interest on capital? Will 100,000 francs cease to be worth 100,000 francs because they produce no more interest? Will 500,000 francs in land, in houses, in machines or anything else cease to be 500,000 francs because one can no longer draw interest from them? In a word, will wealth, under whatever form and however acquired, cease to be wealth as soon as I am no longer able to make use of it to plunder other people? – Who will be willing to create wealth? Why, anyone who wants to be wealthy. – Who will save? Why, anyone who wishes to live the next day off the labour of the previous day. – What interest will there be in forming capital? The interest in possessing 10,000 francs when one shall have produced 10,000 francs, in possessing 100,000 when one shall have produced 100,000, and so on.
DOI-IV-1.29 “The law,” you say, “will rob us of the prospect of laying by a little property, because it will prevent us from gaining any advantage from it.” Quite to the contrary, the law will assure to everyone the prospect of laying by as much wealth as they have produced through their labour, by forbidding anybody to plunder his neighbour of the fruits of his labours, and by decreeing that services exchanged shall be equivalent: use for use and property for property. “It will deprive us,” you add, “of all stimulus to save at the present time, and of all hope of repose for the future. It is useless to exhaust ourselves with fatigue; we must abandon the idea of leaving our sons and daughters a little property, since modern science renders it useless, for we should become traffickers in men if we were to lend it on interest.” [This quotation and the previous one are from Bastiat’s Capital and Rent. – RTL] Quite to the contrary, the abolition of interest revives in you the stimulus to save at the present time and assures you the hope of repose for the future, because it prevents you, the labourers, from being plundered, by means of rent, of the greater part of the fruits of your labour, and because by obliging you to spend no more than the exact sum you have earned, it renders saving all the more indispensable to everybody, be they rich or poor. Not only will you be able to leave your sons and daughters a little property without becoming traffickers in men, but you will b able to obtain this property with a good deal less effort than today; because if, while you earn 10 francs a day and spend 5, you are deprived, as nowadays, of the other 5 by all the forms of rent and of interest on capital, after forty years you won’t have a farthing to leave to your children; whereas once rent is abolished you will have more than 60,000 francs to bequeath to them.
DOI-IV-1.30 All the economic sophisms [A play on the title of Bastiat’s . – RTL]] concerning interest on capital rest solely on the tendency always to limit oneself to considering the question from one side only, instead of representing it under its two reciprocal faces . One demonstrates with great razzle-dazzle that the value lent is a service, a means of labour and production for the borrower; but one forgets that the value rendered in return is equally a service, a means of labour and production, to the lender by precisely the same principle, so that in this way, the use of the same service being balanced for the same time given, interest on capital is as much a case of absurdity as it is a case of plunder. One ceremoniously enumerates the benefits of savings which, being indefinitely multiplied by rent, produces the scandalous opulence of a pack of idlers; but one forgets that these benefits, levied on those who labour by those who do nothing, produce the appalling wretchedness of the masses, whom they frequently deprive of their subsistence, and always at the very least of their savings, their leisure, and the possibility of leaving something to their offspring. One laboriously proclaims the need for the formation of capital, and one does not see that interest restricts such formation to a vanishingly small number of hands, while the abolition of rent would summon all the world, without exception, to its formation, and capital would be multiplied in still greater proportion as each would have to make up for the absence of interest by the sum total of the value of the stock. “ To say that interest will be annihilated, is to say that there will be one more motive for saving, for denying ourselves, in order to form new capitals and preserve the old ones,” [A reversal of a line of Bastiat’s in Capital and Rent. – RTL] since, to begin with, any wealth one acquires will remain wealth forever; next, with each person forever able to enrich himself in exact proportion to his labour and his savings, no one will be led to dissipation and improvidence by extremes of opulence and wretchedness; finally, with everyone living not on interest but on the stock, the importance of capital will necessarily be required to make up for the sum total of the abolished rent.
DOI-IV-1.31 Everybody knows that the zero, despite having no intrinsic and absolute value by itself, has nevertheless of value of service and use in the numbering or the multiplication of values, since each number increases by ten according to the zeros that follow it. To say that the natural and true rate of interest is zero, is thus simply to say that use can be exchanged only for use and never for property. Just as a pair of stockings is paid for by its value, say for instance 2 francs, so likewise the use of a value should be paid only by the use of an equal value for an equal time. There indeed lies the prohibition on the plunder of property by property, but it is most certainly not acephalous rent.
DOI-IV-1.32 You call for the saving that constitutes the formation of capital. Do away, then, with rent, which deprives workers of their savings, that renders saving superfluous for the rich (who constantly recover through their income the wealth they constantly spend) and impossible for the poor (whose wages never exceed, if indeed they so much as equal, their subsistence needs). You call for the abundance of capital. Do away, then, with rent, which prevents 99 percent of labourers from ever being able to acquire or preserve either capital or wealth. You call for the reconciliation of capital and labour. Do away, then, with rent, which perpetuates the antagonism of these two forces by destroying the equivalence and reciprocity of services, and by giving rise to such an exploitation of labor by capital that the former, in a given time, pays to the latter 5 billion francs for the use of a single 100-sou piece, as we showed above. You call for the harmony of classes. Do away, then, with rent, so that, as services are in all cases exchanged for equal services of the same nature, each person remains forever in possession of the exact sum of his labour, so that there can no longer be either exploiters or exploited, either masters or slaves.
DOI-IV-1.33 Then will security be everywhere, because injustice will be nowhere. Then will the workers be first to take up their post as the natural guardians of this society, at whose ruin they conspire today only because it brings about their own. Then will there be no more talk of an artificial organisation of labour, because the natural and true organisation shall have arrived. Then will arrangements of constraint be rejected, because those of liberty will be in our possession. Then will the “ jealousies of classes, ill-will, unfounded hatreds, unjust suspicions” fall away, as befits them” for the perfect equality of exchange, the incontestable equivalence of services, ”will be capable of being rigorously, mathematically demonstrated,” and the absolute justice which it shall enshrine “will be no less sublime, in that it satisfies the intellect as well as the feelings.” [Again quoting Bastiat. – RTL]
DOI-IV-1.34 As you see, Sir, I have followed step by step, I might say letter by letter, each of the examples, each of the demonstrations contained in your essay Capital and Rent, and it has been enough for me to reinstate the distinction between use and property, thereby avoiding the equivocation that separates us, in order to conclude, on the basis of your own thoughts and your own words, at the abolition of rent. It is not my letter, it is your work itself, that contains this conclusion from the first line to the last. I have, moreover, done nothing but reproduce it, often word for word and without changing anything but the terminology which have given rise to this unfortunate equivocation. This refutation proceeds not from myself but from you. How, then, can you challenge your own testimony?
DOI-IV-1.35 It is the very principle of rent that you sought to justify. That was the limit of your task.
DOI-IV-1.36 It is the very principle of the abolition of rent that I have, as it seems to me, mathematically demonstrated on the basis of your own aphorisms. Let that be the limit of my own effort also.
DOI-IV-1.37 I have stopped at the very point at which you yourself have judged it necessary to stop us.
DOI-IV-1.38 Once the question of principle has been cleared away, if it should happen, God willing, that you might recognise in right the injustice and illegitimacy of interest, what would then no doubt remain is to deal with the question of application.
DOI-IV-1.39 I do not wish to prejudge the matter here, since it evidently departs from the circle which you yourself have traced. Nevertheless, a few words may perhaps be useful to demonstrate not only the possibility but the practical ease of accomplishing the abolition of interest by means of liberty alone, even prior to the sanction of law. At bottom, the entire problem reduces to this: to give the workers the means of acquiring, whether on account or in any other manner, property in all the things whose interest, hire, farm-rent, or lease requires them to pay unto eternity their value in order to have only their mere use. Now this means is possible.
DOI-IV-1.40 Indeed, suppose – and this fact is no longer a supposition, but an enterprise in full course of execution at the present time – suppose that a kind of private bank is formed in order to issue notes that workers’s associations of all the indispensable professions shall undertake to receive for the amount of a fifth, say, of all the purchases that shall be made of them. Suppose that these notes, being exchanged for money by all those men who seek the abolition of interest, and finding their immediate expenditure within the associations, produce a sum needed to build houses where rent shall be abolished, and where the lease price shall always confer the right of equal value to the amount of the property itself, which the tenant shall thus acquire, in twenty-five years, simply through the payment of the terms.
DOI-IV-1.41 Suppose that the operation continues indefinitely in this way by issuing either old or new notes, and that it includes not only houses but all the instruments of production and land, where the price of leases and farm-rent would in the same manner reimburse the value of the property itself. Behold rent abolished in all its forms, not only for the capital on which the bank operates, and which will necessarily reach a colossal figure, but before long for all capital generally, which by the inexorable law of competition will fall to the same rate, namely to the simple exchange of equal values for equal values, without any interest or rent accruing to either party.
DOI-IV-1.42 I eliminate all the details for the sake of brevity, contenting myself with encapsulating in two words the summary principle of the operation. All the economic ideas are too familiar to you, Sir, for you not to grasp in consequence the result of this mechanism, especially given its simplicity. This should be enough to enable you to see at a glance how it is possible, even easy, to kill off rent through the abolition of rent, to kill off interest on capital by doing away with such interest, and to bring us freely, peacefully, and without any abrupt shock, to the day when loan, hire, farm-rent or lease shall become no more than one of the forms of exchange from which they presently constitute a monstrous deviation, and when your own principles will be realised in the fullness of their truth: mutuality, reciprocity, equivalence of services.
DOI-IV-1.43 Take the proposed principle of the means of application: vary its forms, its elements, its conditions, its mechanism; simplify, perfect its foundation; extend, universalize its action; for monetary tokens, substitute freely, everywhere, tokens of exchange which will be unable to permit interest; rid capital of its unproductive character; inaugurate the voluntary solidarisation of labour; in a word, reproduce this plan for the abolition of rent in every possible fashion: there lies the domain of liberty. It is enough to show that the practical means exists; leave the spirit of man free to act, and you will see whether or not he knows how to make use of it.
DOI-IV-1.44 In any case, and apart from any opinion on practical means, equality and justice remain still no less than what they are, truth is no less truth, and interest on capital – illegitimate in right, absurd and monstrous in principle, plunderer in fact – commands the anathema of all men of good will, the malediction of oppressed peoples, and the just indignation of anyone who possesses a heart that is generous and filled with sympathy for all who suffer and weep. This, Sir, is my justification for handing it over to meet your chastisement, persuaded that once you have seen it anew and in its hideous iniquity, you will find no nobler task than to devote your talent, so remarkable for its liveliness, clarity, vividness, and incisiveness, to combating this pestilence, the source of all these indescribable miseries to which the world is prey.
DOI-IV-1.45 Permit me to close this overlong epistle with the following words from your own essay, which are like a stepping-stone and preamble to this great work of rehabilitation to which equality, justice, and love for the people are leading you:
Here are two men. One of them works from morning till night, from one year’s end to another; and if he consumes all which he has gained, even through forces outside his cotnrol, he remains poor. When New Year’s Eve comes he is no forwarder than he was at the beginning of the year, and has no other prospect but to begin again. The other man does nothing, either with his hands or his head; or at least, if he makes use of them at all, it is only for his own pleasure; it is allowable for him to do nothing, for he has an income. He does not work, yet he lives well; he has everything in abundance; delicate dishes, sumptuous furniture, elegant equipages; nay, he even consumes, daily, things which the workers have been obliged to produce by the sweat of their brow, for these things do not make themselves; and, as far as he is concerned, he has had no hand in their production. It is the workmen who have caused this corn to grow, polished this furniture, woven these carpets; it is our wives and daughters who have spun, cut out, sewed, and embroidered these stuffs. We work, then, for him and for ourselves; for him first, and then for ourselves, if there is anything left.
But here is something more striking still. If the former of these two men, the worker, consumes within the year any profit which may have been left him in that year, he is always at the point from which he started, and his destiny condemns him to move incessantly in a perpetual circle, and a monotony of exertion. Labour, then, is rewarded only once. But if the other, the rentier, consumes his yearly income in the year, he has, the year after, in those which follow, and through all eternity, an income always equal, inexhaustible, perpetual. Capital, then, is remunerated, not only once or twice, but an indefinite number of times! So that, at the end of a hundred years, a family which has placed 20,000 francs at five per cent., will have had 100,000 francs; and this will not prevent it from having 100,000 more, in the following century. In other words, for 20,000 francs, which represent its labour, it will have levied, in two centuries, a tenfold value on the labour of others.
In this social arrangement, is there not a monstrous evil to be reformed?
And this is not all. If it should please this family to curtail its enjoyments a little – to spend, for example, only 900 francs, instead of 1,000 – it may, without any labour, without any other trouble beyond that of investing 100 francs a year, increase its capital and its income in such rapid progression, that it will soon be in a position to consume as much as a hundred families of industrious workmen.
Does not all this go to prove that society itself has in its bosom a hideous cancer, which ought to be eradicated at the risk of some temporary suffering?
DOI-IV-1.51 It is this hideous cancer, Sir, that you will aid us in eradicating. For exchange you desire liberty; desire also EQUALITY, then, so that fraternity, by crowning them both, may inaugurate upon the earth the reign of justice, of peace, and of universal conciliation.


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